Saturday, December 29, 2007

CLACs Rule!

I just finished reading "The Story of French" by Nadeau and Barlow. This is a great book for francophiles and francophones, packed with all kinds of interesting details about the development of the French language and its continued existence today. It has quite an optimistic take on the future of the language as well, especially with the support it is being given by la Francophonie (despite our increasingly anglophonic world.)

Aside from all the other fascinating tidbits in the book, one particular section jumped out at me. Nadeau explains that "La Francophonie" has set up 213 CLACs around the world. These small libraries - CLACs (Centre de lecture et d'animation, in English they would be called a "Centre for Reading and Community Activity") - were inspired by Philippe Sauvageau, the head librarian of Quebec's National Assembly Library. His goal was to develop small libraries of 2,500 books that would also offer internet access, games, movie screening rooms and sound systems. As a result of his vision, 17 countries now have CLACs, each costing only 40,000 euros apiece.

What is exciting about the concept of a CLAC, is that it can be set up relatively cheaply, and it quickly becomes a hub of community life. According to Nadeau, the presence of a CLAC dramatically increases the literacy level in the area it serves. Quelle bonne idée!