Library Day 2023

For the Library Day 2023, the Goethe-Institut and the Munich City Library hosted a public panel discussion. 

Panel discussion "Shrinking spaces: Libraries under pressure"  

Every year, the day of action draws attention to the more than 9,000 libraries in Germany and makes people curious about their extensive range of services. Since the introduction of the Library Day, many libraries have held a variety of events to draw attention to the different services provided by libraries as independent cultural and educational institutions.

This year, the Goethe-Institut, in cooperation with the Munich City Library, took part in the day of action with the panel discussion "Shrinking spaces: Libraries under pressure".   

The discussion focused on the challenges that libraries in Germany and around the world are increasingly facing, forcing them to react and take a stand: Attacks on the freedom of information and expression and the threat to events that show the world in all its diversity. What should be done, for example, when a reading of children's books by an author and two drag artists is announced, as in June 2023 in Munich City Library, and the announcement leads to angry reactions from politicians, even a ban on the event is demanded and right-wing extremists announce a protest on site?   For the libraries of the Goethe-Institut, there is also the fact that they increasingly have to work in illiberal contexts. What can be done without exposing staff and library visitors to danger and hostility?  

Participants in the discussion were: 

Dr. Arne Ackermann, born in 1965, studied Slavic studies and philosophy and completed a two-year library traineeship after gaining his doctorate. 
His professional career took him via Göttingen, Frankfurt a.M. and Leipzig to Munich, where he has been head of the Munich City Library since 2013.Among other things, he is a board member of the Literaturhaus München and a member of the German Cultural Council's Speakers' Council.   

Iryna Herasimovich was born in Minsk in 1978 and has been a freelance translator since 2009. She has translated works by Lukas Bärfuss, Georg Büchner, Monika Rinck, Nora Gomringer, Mehdi Moradpour, Jonas Lüscher, Michael Köhlmeier, Franz Hohler and Franz Kafka into Belarusian. She also works as a dramaturge and curator in the field of visual arts and is a member of the German Academy for Language and Poetry. Since 2021, she has been a doctoral candidate at the Slavic Department of the University of Zurich in the SNSF project "Arts & Disinformation". 

After training as a bookseller, Stefanie Kastner studied librarianship and media research. After five years as head of a public library in Germany, she began working for the Goethe-Institut in 2003. After working in the Netherlands, Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Brazil and South Africa, she has been Head of Libraries at the Goethe-Institut headquarters in Munich since 2022. 

Prof. Dr. Carola Lentz has been President of the Goethe-Institut since November 2020. She studied sociology, political science, German studies and education in Göttingen and Berlin, completed her doctorate at the University of Hanover in 1987 and habilitated at the Free University of Berlin in 1996. From 1996 to 2019, she was Professor of Ethnology, first at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, then at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. She is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.  

The panel discussion was moderated by journalist and moderator Amira El Ahl. She studied Arabic and History at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. After completing her traineeship, she worked as a foreign correspondent for the Middle East for SPIEGEL in Cairo from 2006 to 2008. She worked as a freelance author and presenter in Cairo until 2016. She was editorial coordinator at documenta 14 in Kassel and from 2017 to the end of 2022 editor at the Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine in Kassel. She moderates panel discussions and events in German and English. 

Follow us