FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

October 15, 2016 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on October 15, 2016.

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to:

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at




"And if one must speak of money..."


A s with all things-French their "finance" is different. In the US we know Mæcenas but not exactly le mécénat -- in the US we wrestle with "donors" but donations to libraries in France are different in many ways and not just in the-taxes. The participation of The State in library funding is similar, perhaps -- reasonable American and French minds may differ, there, as much as they do in defining NAIRU / "natural rate of unemployment" (per the US poet Bob Dylan, "the buying power of the proletariat's gone down...") and GDP/PPP, although the fundamental capitalist approaches may be the same -- but basic concepts such as "public" library and "city" library may be strangely different, and call for greatly-different finances.

In its April issue the BBF addresses any questions you or others may have had about the financing of French libraries. In a series of short articles they discuss -- my translations of the titles --

-- all intriguing... -- written by economists, librarians, academics, all of whom deal daily with these issues in active professional lives "across the pond" -- US counterparts will spot many familiar matters, here, be "shocked, shocked" to see the assumptions-made and remedies-adopted by the French, and vice versa for the French perhaps in considering US practices -- for the times they are a-changin' in France, in these things, at least as radically if not quite as quickly as they have been in the more trend-obsessed and paradigm-change-minded US, maybe.

So, in your own library-collection, or in the one you use, see, and read,

-- and nowadays you can look online at,


The BBF / Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France has been one of the best resources on French libraries for many years -- since 1956! -- so if you want a "French" or "foreign" or "non-anglophone" look, at, for just a few examples,

-- and re. many other interesting matters -- also and invaluably the history and development of all that, in a non-US / non-anglo-centric / a globalized, even... context -- then consult La BBF!




And now a Note:

The French write uncomfortably about money. From Thomas Piketty to Colbert -- J-B, not Stephen -- by way of J-B Say, French writers on finance seem always to have been apologetic... Compare the correctly-direct Scottish prose of Adam Smith, wondering so scientifically whether l'économie might be a moral-sentiment -- or the careening German condemnations of Marx -- or the warmly-inviting writing of a modern American teacher such as Robert Shiller, tempting students to undertake his campus-favorite "finance" classes -- "I invite finance students and young professionals to take part in the effort to try to define a clear and compelling connection between finance and the good society." Finance and the Good Society (Princeton, 2012) Preface to the paperback edition ["Loc 145 of 7928", whatever that unhelpfully means... ebooks! harrumph...];

-- but the Frenchman Piketty writes because he is worried, "Will the world of 2050 or 2100 be owned by traders, top managers, and the superrich, or will it belong to the oil-producing countries or the Bank of China? Or perhaps it will be owned by the tax havens..." Capital in the 21st Century (Harvard, 2014) Introduction ["Loc 343 of 13514", whatever that unhelpfully means, either... ebooks! harrumph again...];

-- and the Frenchman / Swiss Colbert writes because grand-policy demands it, "In a State the size of that of Your Majesty, and of which the extent may be increased by the defeat of your enemies, one must always be assured of a reserve which is not lacking..." Testament Politique (La Haye, 1694) About businessmen, p. 482 --

-- and the Frenchman Say writes because he, like Robert Shiller, is a teacher loving his subject, but Say's treatise begins by explaining the necessity, "But what has chiefly contributed to the advancement of political economy is the grave posture of affairs in the last thirty years. The expenses of government have risen to scandalous heights..." A Treatise on Political Economy (Claxton et al., 1821) Introduction, p. liii --

-- not that the French are the only observers of economics who have discovered in it "the dismal science"...

I am not suggesting that others as or even more sceptical than the above three may not be found elsewhere than in France who have written about economics -- not even that a few very sour sceptics might even be found in the UK and US traditions. But Shiller is more representative of the latter generally more enthusiastic bunch, at least: lots easier to encounter boundless enthusiasm for economics generally and finance in particular among a given group of anglophones than among others, for some reason...

Perhaps it's in the culture -- more likely the history, the last 500 years or so having seen a florescence in the fortunes of the UK and US, some nowadays would say largely at the expense of The Rest... altho this may be about to change...

But whatever the dynamics, comparative economic history appears to reveal the division, now: reluctance and worry on the one-hand and enthusiastic boosterism on the other, the predicted next few turns of The Wheel notwithstanding. If so all the more reason to study the present situation, then: cookies-at-a-bake-sale for the public library -- why is this an image unimagineable for some, who figure The State can and must provide, and the essence-of-finance for others, who figure that financial self-reliance and entrepreneurship are all that matter for a culture? But I over-simplify...

Read how the French finance their libraries, think of how you finance your own, and then consider the differences -- the comparative method has been ever a useful and fascinating one.







FYI France (sm)(tm) e-journal ISSN 1071-5916
      |         FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic
      |         journal published since 1992 as a small-scale,
      |         personal experiment, in the creation of large-
      |         scale "information overload", by Jack Kessler.
     / \        Any material written by me which appears in
    -----       FYI France may be copied and used by anyone for
   //   \\      any good purpose, so long as, a) they give me
  ---------     credit and show my email address, and, b) it
 //       \\    isn't going to make them money: if it is going
                to make them money, they must get my permission
in advance, and share some of the money which they get with me. 
Use of material written by others requires their permission. 
FYI France archives are in various places on the Internet, i.e. 
at (PACS-L), 
or Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, 
praise, and poison-pen letters all gratefully received at .
        	Copyright 1992- , by Jack Kessler,
	all rights reserved except as indicated above. 




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