Monday, April 9, 2018

Diary of a bibliothécaire, first week

French Village Diaries Diary of a bibliothécaire journée nationale des bibliothèques
Me! At work!

Thank you all for your likes, shares and lovely comments on my first Bibliothécaire post last week, your support really does mean a lot. Today I reached another landmark in my journey as a French librarian; my first week, or twenty-two hours, split over six, half-day shifts, is over and I’m still smiling.

I’ve mastered how to put new books onto the system and modify (when necessary) the codes of older books already there, dealt with books being returned and books going out, renewed subscriptions and set up new ones, and I’m slowly learning my way around where all the books are kept. There is quite a good English language section and I’ve met my first English reader (who I didn’t previously know) and she told me she is very impressed with the selection of English books available. I’ve even met a retired French lady who comes in to borrow English books, as she worked as a librarian in the UK many years ago. I’ve smiled a lot and tried my best at conversation, especially as I’ve noticed how important this is to many of the people who come in.

Thankfully there has been a steady trickle of friends (French, English and Scottish) who have popped in to see how I’m doing and it’s always nice to see a friendly face, even if they are just checking to see if I really am working. My boss C is delighted I’ve increased footfall into the library already.

I have also spent some time with C preparing for our Franco/Anglais animated story time sessions, that we will be doing weekly in May, with the little ones aged from 3 to 10 from the local nursery and primary schools. I’ve made an appearance on the library Facebook page and learned that despite my recent post saying, ‘once a bookworm, always a bookworm’, I am no longer a bookworm, but as the French say, a ‘rat de bibliothèque’!

My biggest stumbling block at the moment is the French pronunciation when spelling out their names. I know when a French person says ‘e’ they mean ‘i’ and ‘g’ they mean ‘j’ but I still stumble and get in a bit of a flap. Hopefully this is something that will get easier with time.

Tomorrow is journée nationale des bibliothèques, or French national library day. I have completed my first week at work, in a small, rural market town library, that opens five times a week, for a total of eighteen and half hours, and employs one full-time and one part-time librarian, but in Paris tomorrow the future of the 16,500 libraries in France will be debated.

Organised by the French culture minister Françoise Nyssen, the journée nationale des bibliothèques follows a recent report by Erik Orsenna (Voyage au pays des bibliothèques, lire aujourd’hui, lire demain) that looked into the role played by libraries, now and in the future. Tomorrow the Grand Palais in Paris will hold a debate, where librarians, members of parliament and associations have been invited to think about how libraries can improve the service offered to the public – opening more, better opening hours, including opening evenings and/or Sundays, other services they can offer etc. Libraries are no longer just places to go to borrow books, and this project is hoping to transform them for the future.

In honour of French national library day, I thought I would share a bit of library related vocabulary with you:

Rat de bibliothèque – book worm
Prêt et retour – borrow and return
Fonds local – collection of books set in local area
Documentaires – hardback, information/coffee table books
Bandes Dessinée – comic books
Roman Policier – crime novels
Gros Caractère – large print books
Album – picture books
Tome – series

There are a few other new words I’ve learned since starting work too:
Embauché – to be hired for a job/to start work, and not to be confused with a similar looking (and sounding to my non-French ear) embûches – to be trapped or in a situation full of pitfalls.
Escabeau – step ladder, a lovely sounding word, but when I was asked to fetch it on day one, I had no idea what I was being asked for.

Tomorrow will be another milestone - I will be working my first solo shift, wish me luck!