Arabesques n°111

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Science and society: a new field of action for libraries

october-november-december 2023

Enhancing the visibility of science in society, and the dialogue between science and citizens, has become a major societal challenge, as recently illustrated by the Covid pandemic: scientists and specialists suddenly found themselves in the spotlight, summoned by society as a whole, the general public and political decision-makers alike, to provide answers to this unprecedented health crisis, while at the same time seeing their word called into question by a fraction of the population.

Created in 2021 by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the "Science with and for Society" label supports universities that engage in participatory science approaches. In dialogue with both researchers and users, usually with space to organize events and, of course, with expertise in documentation and information, university libraries appear to be natural players in this new mission, which they are gradually taking on, as this newArabesques dossier illustrates. From Lilliad, whose pioneering Xperium was created almost 10 years ago to bring research to life and make it accessible to all, to the collaboration with a visual artist at the University of Limoges, which positions the university library as a major player in artistic creation, to the very recent SUNSET program at the University of Bordeaux, which brings together a large number of players inside and outside the university, these initiatives are highly diverse, tailored to the objectives and resources of each establishment.

In the wide-ranging interview that opens the dossier, theologian Michel Deneken, President of Strasbourg University and a member ofAbes's Board of Directors, reminds us of the fundamental importance of these initiatives: "Society needs to become aware that science is a way of understanding the world, and that the scientific approach, which is not just about the test tube or the laboratory, but also about reflection and rational discourse, is now more necessary than ever.

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