Ville de Genève


Mise à jour: 18.09.2018

A City Wall of Books and Culture: the Bibliothèque de la Cité

At the foot of the Old Town, the Bibliothèque de la Cité is the jewel in the crown of the City of Geneva’s Municipal Libraries and has many more resources for English-language users than meets the eye!
© David Wagnières / Ville de Genève

A city wall of books and culture

Chances are that if you’ve lived long enough in Geneva, you’ll have taken the very convenient public elevator up to the Old Town at Place des Trois-Perdrix, near Bel Air-Cité. Its ground level is right next to the main entrance of the Bibliothèque de la Cité. With its facade of white stone and glass panels, this municipal library replaces a tall, forbidding section of the old city walls with 3000 square metres of a lot more than just books… Even if there’s something very appealing in the metaphor of replacing massive medieval ramparts with five storeys of books!

Membership (including borrowing privileges) in all Geneva’s municipal libraries is free for residents of the canton of Geneva and a number of communities in Vaud (e.g. Nyon) and nearby France (Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Gex, Evian…). Registration is easy: just show up at any municipal library with a passport or ID card (with your address of residence) and you get a Municipal Libraries card, with access codes for online operations (for instance, loan extensions).

Words and music and a whole lot more

The Bibliothèque de la Cité is definitely the flagship of Geneva’s municipal libraries. It boasts a generous and eclectic collection of books, periodicals, audio books, movies, music and a whole new level dedicated to digital resources (gaming pods, robotics and stop motion animation workshops). A small part of the books collection is in English, consisting mostly of modern and contemporary fiction, with all English titles set aside in their own area which makes them easy to browse through.

Similarly, there is an English-language corner one floor above in the Youth section, for kids of all age groups. All kinds of film classics and recent issues are available on DVD with multilingual options (the Municipal Libraries catalogue tries its best to include original titles of DVD editions, so just go ahead and enter the title of the film you’re looking for in English). The music and audio books section is full of great surprises and is a huge help for those of us who can’t find the music they want on streaming services. There is even a special nook with all sorts of language-learning resources, if you need some help polishing up your French!

A library for digital times

With free Wi-Fi at all levels, numerous public access workstations, free 30-day e-book downloads from 400 titles and free access to amazing apps like PressReader, to read more than 7000 newspapers and magazines from all around the world, the Bibliothèque de la Cité is a library that’s open to the world and our digital times. Full of natural light and comfortable places, with snacks allowed (and sold!) on the ground level, kids- and family-friendly, in the heart of downtown Geneva and full of resources for English-language users, the Bibliothèque de la Cité is one of the most vibrant cultural venues of the City of Geneva. Do drop by soon!



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