You should definitely investigate the resources available in the municipal library for the part of Paris where you live. You will find a full description of these establishments on the Mairie de Paris website, at http://www.paris.fr/bibliotheques. In general you will find that they provide you with a useful local resource, with a wide range of borrowable books and a very good selection of reference works and periodicals that can be consulted on the spot. Their catalogues are all on line on the Mairie de Paris website so that you can easily check the availability of items and, once you are a member of one local municipal Library in Paris, you can reserve and borrow documents from the whole library network. Joining is free, but don't forget to bring along proof of identity and residence when you go to enrol.
The Mairie de Paris is also responsible for a number of special interest libraries, covering subjects such as the history of Paris, art history, cinema, and women's and gender studies. Several are referred to below, and you will find the full list on the Mairie de Paris website.
Bibliothèque Publique d'Information, Centre Georges Pompidou, rue Beaubourg, 75004 Paris Opening Times: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 12h00 - 22h00 (closed Tuesday) Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays: 11h00 - 22h00
Access: Free to all. Free access without a library card (but be prepared to queue at peak times). The Library does not lend books.
Remarks: Very rich collections in the areas of general culture and current affairs. This library forms one part of the internationally renowned Pompidou Centre which also houses a museum of modern and contemporary art, cinema and performance halls, a music research institute, and much more besides. Greatly appreciated by Parisian students for its accessibility and the wealth of information it provides.
Getting There : Métro : Rambuteau (11), Châtelet (1, 4, 7, 11, 14), Les Halles (4, RER A, B, D), Hôtel de Ville (1, 11)
Bibliothèque Forney et fonds de la bibliothèque des Arts Graphiques 1 rue du Figuier, 75004 Paris
Tel: 01 42 78 14 60
Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday: 13h00 - 19h30
Access: Free, but you must obtain a reader's card (you will need identity papers, photo, proof of residential address).
Remarks: Wide range of resources on art history and the applied arts. Beautifully situated in a 15th/16th century « hôtel particulier » in the Marais.
Getting There: Métro : Pont Marie (7), St Paul (1) : Bus : 67, 69, 76, 86, 87, 96
Access: Free to all, bring a photo and identification.
Remarks: Handsome setting in a splendid « hôtel particulier » in the Marais. Archives, photos, and maps relating to the history of Paris from the 19th century onwards. Also holds
rich collections on a variety of other subjects including the history of Paris theatre productions.