Dear Martine Lignières-Cassou, President of the General Council, Dear Georges Labazée, President of the Regional Council, dear Alain Rousset, Members of Parliament and representatives of local and regional authorities, Dear Marie Carrega, Prefect, Director of the Pau Urban Area Media Library Network, Dear Jean-Paul Godderidge, Regional Director of Cultural Affairs,

I would like to begin by saying how pleased I am to be here today for the inauguration of the André Labarrère Intercommunal Media Library.

I wanted to return to Pau out of friendship for you, dear Martine, and because for forty years, libraries have developed strongly in France, public reading being today a major axis of my policy. Our country has gradually acquired a new national library (the BNF), an exemplary network of departmental libraries, municipal or inter-communal media libraries such as this one, large or smaller, very often admired abroad. At a time when our societies are undergoing rapid changes, particularly in the digital world, sometimes brutal for individuals, the library naturally remains a place of gratuitousness, sociability, conviviality, a space for understanding the world in which to take a step back – in the beautiful furnishings offered to it – to discover other territories and prepare developments, whether personal or professional. It is also a space of mediation where one is accompanied, a place of prescription, but also a place open to the imagination. As far as mediation is concerned, I was impressed by the work done with the Pau prison which has just been presented to us. Libraries are modern and not at all obsolete places that our society needs, both to progress individually and all together, places of appeasement and openness.

Today, with continued high levels of state aid, around 80 million euros a year, local and regional authorities build more than 100,000 m² of new libraries every year. The Palo agglomeration community participates in this strong dynamic of the development of this «first cultural network of France».

In 2011, you inaugurated the centre dedicated to written heritage and community archives, the tramway factory. Today we are opening the public reading centre. I would like to salute all those who made it possible to achieve the ambition of the Community program conceived in December 2003 by the former minister, deputy and senator mayor André Labarrère, and pursued with realism and intelligence by his successors.

I am probably one of the few people here who did not know André Labarrère personally, but salutes his role in the history of
our country and its political history. This library is a fine tribute to his memory.

The 21st century media library must do more than in the past. Continue, of course, to offer its users printed books, records or newspapers on the spot. But also multiply content and uses, both on the spot and at a distance, using innovative mediation mechanisms, adapted to all audiences, whatever their age or social origin. This point is very important, the library is a place where we fight effectively against inequalities, for me culture has a role
eminent social figure.

Providing access to a particularly comprehensive and coherent collection of more than 200,000 documents covering an area of more than 7,000 m², located in the centre of daily life, between Henri IV school, whose students were seen with the Pau-Béarn- and market, and realized by the architect Daniel Rubin, the André Labarrère Media Library responds in every way to this challenge. I congratulate Daniel Rubin for his work: I like the color linden he chose, he managed an architectural gesture, respectful of the
building functionality. I know that it is sometimes difficult for those who work in a new building when the organization is not completely adjusted, I am sure that solutions will be found. Showcasing innovative services, this media library can rightly appear as one of the jewels of French libraries, these public places of access to knowledge of which Jules Ferry had already measured the importance by saying: We can do anything for school, for high school, for university, if there is no library, we will have done nothing.” I would like to congratulate the agglomeration of Pau on its success in
local bookshops in these public markets and especially at the Tonnet bookstore located just opposite. I tip my hat to the Aquitaine region, which with the State is mobilizing in favour of the bookstore.

Accessible to all, the André Labarrère Media Library will be a place of culture, knowledge and reasoned approach to information, in the heart of the City. For me, the work of digital access is very important, and I particularly welcome the collaborative side of the site, allowing members to make their own exhibitions.

It will be, I have no doubt, a formidable relay for this policy of arts and cultural education of which I have made one of my priorities. And the activities we attended this morning reinforce my conviction that during this five-year period, arts and cultural education from kindergarten to university is one of our priorities.

I salute the great work of the Pau-Béarn Opera directed by Fayçal
Karaoui.

These days I am starting a Tour de France of arts and cultural education, started yesterday in Rennes, also in a library, Les Champs Libres, now in Pau which is a pioneer and pilot because it is an educative city and in the coming weeks and months in twenty cities, to show, reveal what exists in the field of reading, the visual arts, photography, video, etc., meet the actors of these programs and the elected representatives of
these territories, from all the territories, and to generalize, the EAC is effective in combating school failure as well as in developing the development and confidence of young people.

As you know, I have made access to art and culture a priority that crosses and articulates the entire policy of my department. Support for creation and for artists, the enhancement and protection of heritage must be accompanied by constant and concrete concern to create the conditions for a living encounter with the population. My priority: the youngest, the most geographically and socially distant from cultural activities and practices, and especially the neighbourhoods and rural areas.

So it’s the EAC national project. It’s a project that brings together several ministries and local authorities.

Arts and cultural education is now part of the foundation of the school. This foundation will be enshrined in law.

I asked a committee chaired by Marie Desplechin, a writer, to make concrete proposals for the gradual generalization of artistic and cultural education pathways. I will release this report shortly.

Books and public reading will be one of the cornerstones of arts and cultural education. Your media library will play its full part. Positioned at the centre of cultural policies, working regularly with schools, with associations in favour of the development of reading for young people, it will also be a way to access new modes of information. Thanks to the Digital Library of Pyrenean Resources (BNRP), a partner of the Digital Knowledge Bank in Aquitaine, it will be a privileged observation ground for cultural practices and innovative services, the hybridization of content and the articulation between physical library use and remote uses.

By supporting the construction of modern media libraries, the State wishes to place reading at the centre of cultural priorities, because reading is a foundation on which many other forms of access to culture and understanding of the world are built. You have understood this issue, dear Martine Lignières-Cassou, and have been able to meet, with determination and following your predecessors, the challenge of building, in the heart of your city, this beautiful and very modern house of discovery and exchange, relay of a humanism and values that are dear to us.

Thank you: long life at the André Labarrère media library.