The future of French media libraries in India starts now!

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The scholar R. David Lankes once remarked that bad libraries built collections, good libraries built services while great libraries built communities. This is especially true of the médiathèques across the French network in India. It goes without saying that these media libraries offer a glimpse into the world of French art, culture and literature. But their real contribution runs far deeper – they have helped to create and to nurture francophone communities across the subcontinent.

Backdrop (May2017) OL 12x8 ds2

The unique challenges faced by the French library network in India and the vast potential that it offers have not gone unnoticed. With the explicit goal of modernising this network, a three-day workshop called The Other Library: Médiathèques XXI was organised by Institut Français (India) in New Delhi from May 9 to May 11. The training sessions focussed primarily on Library and Mediation training and were conducted by Héloïse Courty – a French consultant who specialises in the modernisation of libraries. The workshop was organised with the support of Institut Français (Paris), the network of Alliances Françaises in India and DELNET.

Some of the participants

Some of the participants on the first day of the workshops

15 librarians – representing 14 libraries in the French network in India – attended the workshop. The program kicked off with an interactive session wherein each participant presented their work and its challenges. They also used their expertise to come up with non-prescriptive solutions to these issues. On the second day, the participants were hosted by the Developing Library Network (DELNET). The Deepalaya Community Library – a free, community library managed by Mridula Koshy – was highlighted as an illustrative example of an open and interactive space.

Dr H. K. Kaul, Director DELNET (front row, centre) with Laurent Elisio Bordier (Academic Director, AF Bombay),

Dr H. K. Kaul, Director DELNET (front row, centre) flanked by Héloïse Courty on the left and Laurent Elisio Bordier (Academic Director, AF Bombay) on the right along with the participants of the training 

Meanwhile, Heloïse also invited the participants to imagine The Third Space Library – a concept which pitches the library as a space for creativity and innovation that is neither work nor home. Finally on the third day, participants put their hands to clay modelling to create spaces for a French Digital Corner – an existing program that introduce students to France and French culture and ideas.


Dr. Bertrand de Harting, Cultural and Cooperation Counsellor, Director of Institut Français d’Inde (centre) and Héloïse Courty (4th from right) interacting with some of the participants

The overarching goal of the workshop was to encourage librarians to take a much more active role in promoting the French language and France. The allure of France as a popular educational, touristic and entrepreneurial destination was highlighted. Librarians were also encouraged to foster partnerships with local organisations (universities, NGOs, enterprises) and to participate in the Digital Culture Weeks which will be organised across the Alliance Française India-Nepal network. The tools already available (Culturethèque, IF Cinema, Serious Games etc.) and potential interventions were highlighted.

A session in progress

A session in progress

This program marks the first step towards Plan Médiathèques XXI – a series of initiatives which aim at upgrading the French library network in India – across Alliances Françaises, Institut Français (Pondicherry), and the Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities. It is part of the continuum of trainings initiated in 2016 wherein media libraries rethink strategies to improve their means, attendance rates and the optimal utilisation of their spaces. The overarching aim is to prepare media libraries to participate in the third edition of Bonjour India (November 2017- February 2018) – a series of events meant to serve as a platform for innovation, creativity, and Indo-French partnership.

The last day of training

The last day of training

Siddharth Bhatt

Rédaction, AF Magazine Inde-Népal

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Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...