On 27 May 2010, the central project of the centenary celebrations of the Institut français du Royaume-Uni was unveiled: a digital platform called Culturetheque. The response of the French Institute in South Kensington, London to the new challenges posed by the digital revolution was to launch a new tool, which was unprecedented both in the UK and in France.
Culturetheque offers French culture at home, on the Internet, for free, in an accessible and user-friendly way: books to read online, films to watch online, podcasts of conferences and live retransmissions. Culturetheque is not a simple online platform to learn French, nor is it a research website; rather, it is a tool with French resources for anyone in the UK who is interested in French culture and would like to know more about French painters, authors, events, and so on. The content online is changed regularly, providing privileged access to a selection of carefully chosen content, with commentaries in English and a strong focus on everyday life, such as travel, cooking, fashion, or books.
The Genesis of ‘Your Digital Institute’
The project was initiated in January 2009 by the head of the Mediathèque. First of all, the 80,000 books in the Institut's beautiful wood-panelled library were being consulted less and less, notably by students who now chose to use the Internet rather than go into the library.