The modern-day library development has been grafted onto what used to be the town hall and local primary school, the “Groupe Scolaire du Bourg”, later known as “Groupe Scolaire Jules Ferry” and now located in more modern premises just around the corner. The original school buildings were built between 1897 and 1904, going on to merge with the Achille Monginoux-conceived town hall which was added between 1902 and 1905 (designed to replace the previous mairie which Mérignac had already outgrown). It continued to function as a town hall until 1979, when the municipality’s administrative services again moved to more spacious quarters 500 metres away.
One of the most distinctive characteristics of the town hall building is its cylindrical corner tower, proudly dated “1904”. A metallic plateau now surrounds it and extends several metres over the pavement. This being the southern façade, the roof offers welcome shade when the sun is at its highest points during the summer months.
On the inside the library spreads over four storeys, representing 5,600 square metres of unexpurgated culture (220,000 items and counting)! Down in the basement, a 126-seater auditorium provides the setting for conferences. The ground floor boasts a 100-square-metre area that hosts temporary events and exhibitions, a youth information bureau and access to online resources. The first floor is where you’ll find books, CDs and DVDs, while the children’s section is on the top floor.
The complex itself, which is 100 metres in length, also includes apartments and office space (architects and a geometer have taken up residence there). Furthermore, it has been tailored to meet the more down-to-earth needs of the library: the mobile library (or “bibliobus”) even has its own sheltered parking space complete with everything it needs to charge up its batteries… and easy access to the main library in order to renew the stock of 5,500 books and magazines it takes on its regular trips to schools and into different parts of the town.
- Find it: 19, Place Charles-de-Gaulle, Mérignac
- The Médiathèque's official website features an excellent photo report, including pictures of building work in progress. Further photos can be seen on the HPL Architectes website. And it's interesting to spot the building on old and not-so-old postcards!