Today’s post comes from our France Country Coordinator, Manuel Huygen. It has been impossible to avoid seeing coverage of the Paris attacks this week. We are honoured and privileged to have this perspective from one of our ILN family and can only say that our thoughts are with our French colleagues and their families as they come to terms with these terrible events.
Everybody remembers what he was doing when he learnt about the September 11 attacks, how he reacted, and the atmosphere the following days. I was working at the front desk of the library, and on that afternoon a colleague came to ask me : “did you hear about what just happened in NY ??”, and she told me about “two planes crashing in NY”, just like that.So at first I didn’t realize, I thought it was little tourism planes ; that was only when I came back home and turned on the television that I was hit by the incredible images.Times have changed, today you can more easily follow big events live on the internet. These last days were very special for us at the library, as the entire country was overwhelmed by waves of terror. Indeed there were little talks about the situation with the patrons, it was like everybody was suspended to the events.Since the library is open on saturdays and sundays, we have special schedules : from tuesday to friday for 3 weeks, and then one week when we work from tuesday to…sunday. This sunday, it was my turn. Gatherings were planned in all french cities and I wouldn’t be able to march…Special measures had been taken since wednesday : only one entrance authorized for the patrons and bag examination at the entrance. So we arrived a little earlier on sunday (we had been told to), we opened the public spaces, and I soon watched the live broadcast from Paris, seeing the transportation of head of states in buses (!), seeing these huge crowds gathering in Paris. I can tell you that was moving, unbelievable.And just minutes before 3PM, I went to the last floor of the library, colleagues were already there, and here is what we saw :
People were coming from every little street around, and it took more than an hour to empty the square. The rest of the day was very quiet in the library. We carried on watching the images from Paris, very moving images, and there were not so much patrons, maybe a little bit after the march had ended.It makes you shiver when you see such a unique and enormous demonstration of calm and determination against barbarism and obscurantism. I have been working quiet 15 years in various libraries and different places, and this was the most intense day of work in my life, by far.