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Sister City Sèvres

Since 2000, Mount Prospect and Sèvres, France, have shared a unique relationship as Sister Cities. Our libraries have that special bond as well, and we have worked together over the years to exchange information, to share reading experiences, and to create a variety of library programs.

A Visit to MPPL

In June 2010, a delegation from Mount Prospect’s Sister City, Sèvres, France, visited the Mount Prospect Public Library. Representatives included: Joelle Brunemer, executive director of Bibliothèque-Médiathèque de Sèvres; Jean-Christophe Nicolas, multimedia manager; and Didier Adon, deputy village manager of Sèvres.

Their objective was to visit MPPL and a few other progressive American libraries to learn how to modernize French library services, especially in the area of technology and multimedia.  During the course of their visit, the delegates participated in several professional discussions with MPPL staff on partnerships, community involvement, technology, and programming.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to find out about French public librarianship and to discover the commonalities as well as the differences,” said Marilyn Genther, executive director of the Mount Prospect Public Library, “They were very interested in our virtual services, including downloadable books and electronic online resources, as well as our extensive programming and partnerships with businesses and community organizations.”

Didier Adon, the deputy village manager of Sèvres, was also intrigued by the role American libraries play as centers for the exchange of ideas and information not necessarily connected with public reading.

The Sèvres delegation spent time in each department of the Library to learn how American libraries are organized and what services are offered. To help increase their understanding, the delegation also visited several area libraries, including Elgin’s Gail Borden Public Library and its Rakow branch, Cary Area Public Library, and Skokie Public Library.

 Book Crossing

The 2010 visit not only provided the opportunity for a professional exchange but also served to kickoff Book Crossing, an intercontinental book discussion. MPPL staff and their Sèvres counterparts collaborated to choose books, written by French and American authors, that the citizens of both cities were encouraged to read and discuss. “We used technology to facilitate the planning of this book discussion,” noted Genther, “We created a collaborative website (Wiki) through that staff here and in France could hold discussions. We accomplished all of the planning online, with the need for only one phone call.”

Book Crossing continues and is now an annual event. Mount Prospect and Sèvres residents young and old, are invited to spend the summer reading the books and then participating in a discussion. To continue the technology theme, the two communities are encouraged to discuss the books online, through a blog. More traditional book discussions for all ages are also held in the fall. For more information, contact the Library at 847/253-5675.

A Visit to Sèvres

 In June 2012, the exchange between the Sister City libraries came full circle. At the invitation of Sèvres officials, MPPL staff traveled to Sèvres to continue the professional discussions which had begun two years earlier. Public librarianship in France was a focus, including its relationship to schools, museums, and other social agencies, as well future directions in library technology throughout France.