Dear Bertrand Mertz, Mayor of Thionville

Mr President of the Regional Council of Lorraine,

Dear Jean-Pierre Masseret

Mr Architect, Dear Dominique Coulon

Dear Godmothers, Dear Godparents of the 3rd Place

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends, dear friends

First, I would like to say how pleased I am to be here in Moselle, around an ambitious and innovative project, unique in France. It is a great pride for me to be here today alongside all the architects of this remarkable future place of culture. To lay the foundation stone for this unique 3rd Place which, because its vocation is to recreate a public space around the transmission of knowledge, the dissemination of information, exchange and creation, restores all its meaning to culture. Even if this place will be plural (tourist office, restaurant) and multicultural (studios of creation and diffusion), I want in particular to talk to you about the future large media library.

This innovative multimedia library project has taken full measure of the challenge facing our cultural facilities today: to envisage new spaces adapted to changing uses.

The vast network of cultural facilities that irrigate our territory must evolve to the rhythm of the world around us, of the behaviors and preferences of our fellow citizens. While the activity of French libraries has increased over the past three years, it is also experiencing a decline in traditional practices. Year-round subscriptions are declining in favour of a more discontinuous practice. The public service of reading is no longer enough on its own. It must become a service to the public.

And the public is at the heart of the project of this library of the 3rd place. It was designed for all and will belong to all. It is driven by a cultural ambition that must be shared and promoted: the access of the greatest number, and especially of the youngest, to the works of the spirit. An ambition that makes culture live as a leaven of citizenship, vector of social bond and individual emancipation.

Today more than ever, building a media library is a strong commitment to a community. A commitment that the State wants to continue to support. Despite the very tight budgetary context, the state’s support for the media libraries does not weaken.

While the library network is being sacrificed in many European countries, I am pleased to see that our elected representatives still feel it is their responsibility to bring reading within the reach of every Frenchman.

Today more than ever, it is worth congratulating the local authorities who, like here in Thionville or recently in Faulquemont, have made the courageous commitment to continue investing to develop and modernize their network of media libraries. I welcome the ambitious commitment of the City of Thionville, which has already received the support of the Lorraine Region. The Moselle General Council is expected to confirm its support very soon. Alongside the communities, the State’s commitment to libraries remains strong and permanent. The State continues to invest 80 million euros each year to support projects like yours.

The media libraries are essentially places of crossing disciplines, of popularization and discovery, of mixing audiences. Spaces for exchange and creation. They play a major role in the formation and development of children and youth. In the opening of the imagination, reconciliation with the desire to learn and the construction of personality.

In the image of the arts and cultural education of which I made my priority, the construction of a media library thus presents a triple challenge, cultural, political and social. This new media library of the 3rd Place, designed in line with the Greek agora or the Roman forum, is the perfect illustration. Space of democracy, it is a privileged vector of cultural democratization. It brings together places dedicated to knowledge and conviviality, to encounter and exchange, thus restoring its full dimension to the public space. This space where, according to Aristotle, man is realized by cultivating his mind and soul but also, above all, his nature as a political animal. Because we cannot access happiness alone, we are fully realized as individuals and citizens only in those spaces that, like the 3rd Place, promote exchange and encounter, the dissemination of information and knowledge.

I salute the talent of Dominique Coulon, a three-time Strasbourg architect nominated for the Equerre d'Argent, who designed this media library as a place for everyone. Thus proving that living together is not only possible but necessary, even more in times of economic and social crisis.

This 3rd place and this new media library will also help to make culture a structural element of the territories. Part of the Sillon Lorrain logic, this future «reference digital library» is a strategic element in the networking of the new metropolitan pole. It outlines the new digital offering offered by the territorial libraries of Metz, Thionville, Epinal-Golbey and Nancy. Thus contributing directly to the development and influence of our territory.

This project is therefore in many ways a precursor and an example. At a time when the media libraries have to face more mobile uses than before and adapt the design of their spaces to the expectations of the public. The 3rd Place Media Library in Thionville is perhaps, as was said here at a recent seminar, the model of the library of the 21st century.

You have understood, dear Bertrand Mertz, that to bet on culture is to look to the future, to reinvent customs and to contribute to new territorial dynamics. This 3rd Place is an exemplary pioneering experience. Between the documentary vocation of the media library and the vocation of creation and dissemination of studios, this 3rd Place opens the way to new social practices around the creation and transmission of knowledge.

Thank you.