The Bibliothèque des Amis d’Instruction (Library of the Friends of Education) was a workers’ self-help library founded in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris in 1861 by a group of artisans led by the lithographer Giraud. It claims to be the first lending library ever established in the city. It still exists and functions in the rue de Turenne in the Marais area, and can be visited in monthly guided tours. The premises are cramped and narrow, the walls lined with dark wood. It’s an interesting survival of the world of the working-class intelligentsia of the mid-nineteenth century.
—Martyn Lyons, The University of New South Wales, Australia; Editorial Board member of Anthem Australian Humanities Research Series