More than Censorship: The Harm of Libricide

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Libricide, although often deemed an extreme instance of censorship, is altogether different. Censorship involves the suppression of particular books due to alleged inappropriate content; libricide refers to the intentional destruction of entire libraries. Understanding the differing motives recognizes that the library is more than the books it contains, and is instead an institution rooted in its history of selection and use by the local community. Over time, the library reflects the users’ identity, a reminder that any aggressor would wish to eliminate when the goal is pacification by erasure of a population’s memory and history. Prerequisites for an act of libricide—the spread of the access-for public library, the rise of an international movement for heritage preservation, and belief in the library as a site of collective memory—identify the first true act of libricide, the 1914 destruction of the Louvain Library.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalLibraries: Culture, History, and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


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