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Title:Libraries after Charlie: From neutrality to action
Author(s):Bats, Raphaëlle
Subject(s):Charlie Hebdo
Hyper Cacher
Freedom of speech
Information professionals
Abstract:In the weeks following the attacks in January 2015 against Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher, French libraries reacted with speed, intensity, and emotion to the events by, among other things, displaying posters, making acquisitions, and holding exhibitions and debates. The events spawned by the attacks were politically charged. While the attacks challenged the sanctity of freedom of speech in France, the ensuing rallies in protest against them questioned both French unity and the notions of mobilization and engagement in an era that we had come to consider depoliticized. Further, the French nationality of the murderers challenged French democracy’s capacity to offer ways in which its citizens can really live together. Considering all these factors, one wonders what led libraries, usually ardent defenders of their own neutrality, to take a stance during such a political moment in French history. Analyzing the actions carried out by libraries after what the French now simply call “Charlie” provides an opportunity to question the political role that libraries give themselves. This paper first looks at the actions of libraries in France from January to December 2015. It then examines how libraries and librarians have reconciled their own requirement of neutrality with their desire to take part in events that, while potentially historical, are also highly political. Finally, through this occasionally difficult process of reconciliation, the paper reveals an increasing need in the library profession to rekindle its activist vocation.
Issue Date:2016
Publisher:Johns Hopkins University Press and the Illinois School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Citation Info:In Library Trends 65 (2) Fall 2016: 128–142.
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-01-04

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