Art collections in libraries: when did they start and what are they for?

Art lending libraries were designed to foster individual relationships between works of art and their viewers, offering a way for users to bring contemporary art into their homes. Setting up such collections (in a variety of institutional forms) and measuring their impact has not happened at the same rate across France, depending on funding, collections, user profiles, and interest from professionals in the sector. Bringing such collections into libraries has given better results: drawing on staff expertise on lending works and managing, protecting and promoting collections has made such pairings a success in many cases. The presence of works of art in libraries, strengthening the visual impact of the library space, also reinforces the materiality of the art work in a broader context of digitalisation and dematerialisation.