Friday, January 3, 2020

Bookish Travel Toulouse: La Médiatheque Cabanis

During my travels, nothing makes me happier than visiting various public and academic libraries over the world. I am driven not only by the curiosity of checking the available titles and translations, but I also want to take the chance of understanding the public architecture and therefore the place of libraries in the social and urban geography.
While in Toulouse, France, last December, I paid a visit to the Médiatheque José Cabanis.

The library is part of a massive construction built at the beginning of 2000s on the premises of the former Veterinarian School demolished in 1965. The architectural work of Jean Pierre Buffi features two massive blocks: on the left side, there are media institutions and commercial offices, while the library/médiatheque on the right side. Underground, there is the network of public transportation which connects this central area situated close to the Matabiau train station to the rest of Toulouse.

Named for José Cabanis, a novelist, essayist, historian and magistrate, member of the prestigious French Academy, the library was inaugurated in 2004. The 4 floors part of the 35 meters high building cover almost everything you are looking for in a library: youth, science, music, arts, history, civilization.
Both elevators and stairs are available. Most of the system of loaning and returning books is made electronically.

It also has an exhibition space, which at the time of my visit displayed a very interesting documentary of the North African immigration to Toulouse, trying, at least through words, images and sounds, to recaliber the problematic social acceptance of those group of immigrants into the wider French society.

The library spaces are huge, generous with computers and seating places where you can quietly enjoy  the pleasure of reading. Since its opening, over 800,000 visitors have enjoyed this bookish ambiance, and I am happy I count as one of them too.  

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