[en] Police repress librarian protest in Rome

On Tuesday, October 11, the occupiers of Teatro Valle, together with the group of intellectuals TQ (“Thirties-to-Forties”), the National Association of Librarians (AIB), and many dozens of knowledge workers, had planned to hold a public assembly at the National Library in Rome to discuss the budget cuts to culture, amounting to 47 million euros for the sole libraries.

The initiative was titled “Carta batte forbice” (“Paper Beats Scissors”) and it entailed an assembly and a symbolic occupation of a few hours, featuring artists, scholars and writers such as Franca Valeri, Marco Lodoli, Elena Stancanelli among others. The meeting had been previously been authorized by the Direction; however, when the protesters approached the building, they were welcomed by five police vans and anti-riots agents. General admission to the library had been already blocked since 4 PM, allegedly due to the malfunctioning of the turnstiles.

The protesters gave birth to a spontaneous rally in front of the library building, temporarily stopping the traffic: they consequently held their public discussion outdoors.

Stefano Parise, the President of AIB, commented on the episode on October 14. “We cannot accept that the request of spaces in order to discuss the centrality of culture (not only for its workers, but for all citizens) is treated merely as a problem of public order,” the press release reads. Building on the comparison with the crowed libraries of Germany and the underfunded ones in Italy, Parise also declared: “It is easy to turn libraries into inaccessible spaces as the episode of October 11 clearly demonstrates. Libraries should not be protected by anti-riot police, but by adequate policies, allowing them to perform their institutional functions, through the allocation of material and human resources and a process of general reorganization.” Finally, AIB announced a new series of initiatives addressing the shrinking of Libraries budget, and asked that the space of National Library in Rome be conceded for a future remaking of the event.

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