An ode to libraries

Posted on October 5, 2020

Where can you learn, relax, ponder, socialize and even travel, all at the same time, without getting up out of your chair? No, I’m not referring to a social network or the latest app! I’m talking about libraries!

Libraries, those “cathedrals for books,” as the writer Alexandre Jardin called them, have been a part of my life since I was a small child. I remember the weekly ritual: my mother would take my sister and me, not to the local public library, but to other libraries in the surrounding area. We would fill our canvas ”library bag” (no plastic bags for us … even 30 years ago!) with the books borrowed the previous week, to return a few hours later with the same bag full of our newest literary finds!

I remember one library in Cannes, France, that looked like a small château in the midst of a park! What a tranquil and inspiring setting! I would wander the aisles of children’s books, leafing through work after work until I finally found the one destined to spend the next few days in my company! After about 20 minutes, my sister, my mother and I would meet up again, eager to plunge into our latest acquisitions!

A few years later (quite a few years, in fact!), I find myself miles from Cannes, still practising the same ritual! I visit the libraries in my community every week and even several times a week!

I roam the aisles lined on either side by metal shelving filled with books, my eyes riveted to the spines of the various-sized volumes! A keen reader of French novels, I comb through each row in the French books section of the Richmond Public Library! The French-language resources in my community, where English and Chinese are the dominant languages, are many and varied, and include a little of everything: colourful picture books, teen adventure novels, resources for learning French! From biographies of prominent Canadians to classics to romance novels, there’s plenty of choice!

The Vancouver library’s main branch is the other library I enjoy visiting … almost daily. In addition to thousands of French-language books, this location offers a wide selection of magazines in the language of Molière.

I consider myself fortunate and privileged to have access to not just one but several of these places that both soothe and stimulate my mind! I am often told by family, friends and colleagues that the Vancouver area doesn’t have enough resources in French! But the fact is that our local libraries and Francophone associations are overflowing with French books and periodicals for every age and reading level! Why not take advantage of the next rainy day to roam the corridors of your public library, exploring your community’s French-language resources! You may just find the very book, CD or magazine you’ve been searching for!

Translated by Sheila Ethier, Language Portal of Canada


The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

Get to know Caroline Gadenne

Caroline Gadenne

Originally from France, where she studied foreign languages, Caroline is a French language and grammar enthusiast. She teaches French as a second language, and administers and corrects French language exams. Caroline works full time as a federal public servant in Vancouver.

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