AFKO board member Valérie Larivière and Library staffer Anne DeGrace check out some of the new French books at the Library. Photo submitted

COLUMN: Opening worlds in both official languages

Anne DeGrace on French language books and the library’s partnership with AFKO.

by Anne DeGrace

“Le monde est un livre dont chaque pas nous ouvre une page.” Francophones and Francophiles will know that this statement is as true now as it was when French writer Alphonse de Lamartine penned it nearly 200 years ago.

For the benefit of the Anglophones out there, the phrase translates to: “The world is a book—with each step we open a page,” a nice analogy whether you love life or books or both. And really, who doesn’t love both?

Book-loving French-speakers can celebrate new page-turners thanks to a matching grant from the Francophone Affairs Program of the Province of BC, which allowed us to purchase a nice selection of new books, DVDs, and eBooks.

La bibliothèque publique de Nelson reconnaît le soutien financier de la province de la Colombie-Britannique et du Government du Canada par les blais de l’Entente Canada-Colombie-Britannique en matière des langues officielles pour les services en français.

We were able to put together an order of books-to-love thanks to a wish-list from L’Association des francophones des Kootenays Ouest (AFKO) after Director Lyne Chartier polled the membership. The results include popular French fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels in a variety of formats, and a nice bump in our French DVD collection.

It’s great to partner with AFKO; I always get such a warm response when I reach out, which stands to reason: AFKO is a friendly organization that welcomes Francophones and Francophiles alike : if you want to embrace the language and culture, the door’s open.

AFKO has been around since 1998, drawing approximately 400 members from across the West Kootenay. They host fun programs for all ages including Cabane à Sucre, Camp d’été (in a number of different communities), Paris in Nelson, St-Jean Baptiste events, and more. They have some 4,000 books in their own library collection and they tour a selection through the Koots each April and October via their Bibliobus, a true library-on-wheels. You can find out more by visiting AFKO at their new digs at 807 Baker Street or checking them out online at www.afko.ca.

So what’s new in our French Language section? Books include Canadian/Parisian author Nancy Huston’s Le club des miracles relatifs, Le palais de la fatigue by Michel Deslisle, Vivre cent ans by Marie Noelle Blais, and Simon Brousseau’s Les fins heureuses, to name a few. We also have popular translations such as Sapiens by Noah Harari Yuval and Longitude by David Sobel, and graphic novels including Pierre Christin’s Valérian series.

eBooks include Dany Laferrier’s Tout ce qu’on ne te dira pas, Mongo and L’Incindie by Louise Tremblay D’Essiambre, among others. For new films we have Café de Florence, Tu dors Nicole, and a couple of double-DVD sets including that classic send-up of Franco-Anglo relations, Bon Cop Bad Cop and Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 starring Colm Feore and Patrick Huard, the first of which made a long Air Canada flight a slightly embarrassing experience (I laughed out loud several times).

It’s hard for an Anglophone like me to order French materials, and so I am hugely grateful to AFKO for their assistance and support, and happy to see the materials we purchase circulate. Please tell your friends! And if you have young ones, be sure to check out the French collection in the children’s section as well. Nous visons à plaire!

I suspect that Alphonse de Lamartine was a pretty smart guy, but I’d like to offer another take: “Le livre est un monde— à chaque page, nous ouvrons la porte.”

“The book is a world—with each page, we open the door.”

Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week.

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