Wants to become a state resource for free speech

August 30, 2023 • 2 My

In Malmö, there is a growing desire for the Dawit Isaak Library to become a public resource library focusing on banned literature. “We’re discussing it here,” says library manager Emelie Ive.

Ulrika Ahlberg and Emelie Ive (formerly Wieslander) at the Dawit Isaac Library in Malmö. Photo: Julia Lindemalm

For minority languages, there are national resource libraries scattered throughout the country, the result of an investment decided in 2020 by the then red-green government. The Dawit Isaak Library in Malmö should receive the same kind of government mandate when it comes to building expertise and funds related to censorship and banned literature.

This is the opinion of Emelie Ive, director of the library created by the municipal archives of Malmö three years ago.

– We talk about it here. The question really is how this proposal should be implemented in the most strategic way possible.

Emelie Ive points out that the Dawit Isaak Library has already assumed the role of expert on issues related to forbidden literature and other cultures. The library receives requests from all over the country and helps produce lists of books that are currently or historically banned in various parts of the world. She gives the example of a school librarian who contacted us and said the school should have a Russian theme, what kind of literature from there is banned due to LGBTQ issues?

– Then we can make a list. And if we take on this role but show that we could have done much more if we were more than one and a half librarians…, she says of the ambition to receive a targeted mission from the government.

During the fall, the library will play a decisive role in two major initiatives which, according to Emelie Ive, could also make a strong impression the day when a question is addressed to the Ministry of Culture concerning the establishment of a new library of resources in Malmö (Malmö library was once a resource library for Chib Romani):

From October 9 to 15, Dawit Isaak Library organizes Banned Books Week in collaboration with Svenska Pen. The week, held annually in the United States since the early 1980s, will aim to spread knowledge about banned literature and the library will produce news, campaign materials, signage materials and programming advice. that libraries and booksellers can use.

– There are certainly individual public libraries that have already drawn attention to this, but the goal is to scale up across the country and provide all public libraries and booksellers with the opportunity to attract attention together on this subject with the help of our documentation.

The Dawit Isaak Library has also launched a week in Malmö on prohibited culture, from 20 to 26 November.

– It’s a coming together of forces and it’s not just forbidden literature, but forbidden art, forbidden music, almost every art form you can think of, which then comes from the various departments and institutions of cultural administration, says Emelie Ive.

In addition to municipal cultural institutions, among others, the University of Malmö, the Modern Museum and the Skåne Dance Theater will participate and draw attention to how freedom of expression is limited by the ban on art and culture.

– We are starting on a fairly small scale, the idea is that it is a pilot year and that we should scale up for next year and then expand everything and above all allow free cultural life and various activities external or free. we must also support cultural institutions, says Emelie Ive.

Michael Wilding

"Friendly travel trailblazer. Certified gamer. Evil bacon practitioner. Analyst. Problem solver."

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