It was in pre-kindergarten that I learned my first words in French. They were ouvrez la porte and fermez la porte, and I drove everyone in my family crazy for the next week, madly opening and closing doors with the appropriate announcements at full volume.
The library is all about opening doors, and we try to do it in both official languages. That became easier a few years ago when BC’s Francophone Affairs Program began offering us assistance in the form of matching grants for French language acquisitions. We kickstarted our French collection revamp with $6,000 worth of new books, audiobooks, and DVDs, and with their help we’ve been refreshing and expanding the collection annually ever since.
This year we purchased new books, DVDs, and audiobooks in la belle langue for our physical collection. We also purchased 20 downloadable eBooks, and if the uptake is there we’ll continue to expand this collection. As in past years, members of L’association des Francophones des Kootenays Ouest (AFKO) weighed in, ensuring that our purchases were relevant to our community’s tastes and interests. Thanks to director Lyne Chartier for her help with this.
Right now, a promotion called Les Rendez-vous de la Francophonie runs until March 23, part of the Journée Internationale de la Francophonie (March 20), which is organized every year to promote the French language. It’s an initiative of the Canadian Foundation for Cross-Cultural Dialogue — dialogue being how the opening of doors begins, whether you announce it at full four-year-old volume or not. To celebrate, we’ve created a display of our newest French acquisitions and hope to encourage folks to download the new audiobooks.
New graphic novels include Guy Delisle’s award-winning Chronique de Jérusalem and the three-part series Le Photographe. This section is growing in size and popularity, and it has encouraged requests from Francophone readers: look for new volumes of Châteaux Bordeaux coming soon.
New novels from the AFKO wish-list such as La Ballade d’Ali Baba by Catherine Mavrikakis, Gary Romain’s Chien Blanc and Une Si Longue Lettre by Mariama Bâ are joined by Canadian bestsellers that include Kim Thuy’s Man and Jacques Poulin’s Volkswagen Blues, which was a Canada Reads selection a few years back. International bestsellers in translation include Anthony Doerr’s Toute la Lumière que nous ne Pouvons Voir and Le Chardonneret by Donna Tartt.
New nonfiction titles include the inspirational Coeur Ouvert, Esprit Ouvert by Olympian and mental health champion Clara Hughes and Une Merveilleuse Histoire du Temps: Ma Vie avec Stephen Hawking by Jane Hawking, both books celebrating the opening of doors in different ways. David Suzuki wants to make sure the earth’s doors stay open, and he makes an impassioned case in Lettres à mes Petites-Enfants. Want to experience all that cross-cultural door-opening first hand? Check out Voir le monde: 50 Itinéraires de Rêve Selon vos Envies and get dreaming.
New DVDs include Mommy, which won the Prix du Jury at Cannes, and from the producers of Monsieur Lazhar, Inch’allah. New audiobooks include the award-winning La Vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert by Joel Dicker and Elle & Lui by Marc Levy.
Smaller libraries subscribe to the e-lending source Overdrive, which does not have the selection of downloadable French books we’d like. Nonetheless we managed a good inaugural selection, including novels by Dominique Demers, Caroline Chartrand, Marc Meganck and Alice Munro. You can borrow these titles to read on your device of choice, and after three weeks poof! Out the door they go. You don’t even need to put them in the book drop.
So come to the library, ouvrez notre porte, and check us out. And now, this column est fermée.
Anne DeGrace is the adult services coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to nelsonlibrary.ca.