Saturday, 9 November 2013

Libraries are nice places to go

Libraries are nice places to go As a result of globalization we can easily find familiar places in many countries. Some of those places are commercial ones. The public libraries are another, a privileged place where we find books, CDs, DVDs and other documentation produced by people from all over the world.
I was born in Portugal and lived there for the most of my life. I became a reader at the age of eight in a small local library that belongs to national network of libraries established by the Calouste Gulbenkian, an Armenian businessman and philanthropist that lived in Portugal. It was there that I found the legends from other countries and many writers and I learnt that life was so different in other times, about the psychological side of the human being, the culture of faraway countries and of my own.
I confess that I have since child a big passion for books as objects, and for me is a great pleasure to visit a place where they are. Libraries are their house even by the name. They share the space with other forms of documentation, but at the centre is the book. Well, we now have the multimedia library, but most libraries are not so specialized, and have all sort of documentation under the same roof.
When I went to live aboard for the first time, it was in Luxembourg, and I lived for some years in Luxembourg City, the capital that has the same name as the country.
The public library in Luxembourg is now a big and modern infrastructure with an interesting design: they even have a special room for children’s activities.
My two sons were born in Luxembourg and since they were very small, they are used to the smell of books and to be in the middle of bookcases. I confess that for me a new building doesn’t gave the same charisma as a new one yet, but a modern library also has many attractive aspects, the space can be reinvented and adapted to the society. Now is common to see parents with small children in libraries, some years ago libraries were more spaces for students, but now they are places for a more varied public, special de public ones.
I came to live in Switzerland in 2010 and was happy to find a country full of libraries. In Portugal we have a now a network of municipal libraries and in some cities they do wonderful social work, bringing together people of all ages, with various events to promote cultural activities. During the holidays I often go to Maia, a city near Oporto, and from my apartment, I can see the municipal library and it’s good to have it so close. In Switzerland I first visited the Pestalozzi libraries, who take their name from the Swiss pedagogue, and they are quite good and with a good space for children.
We went to visit Zurich during a weekend before making the decision to move from Luxembourg to Switzerland, and stayed in a hotel very near the library at Hardau that belongs to the Pestalozzi libraries and has an interesting project of having resources in several languages, adapted to the local international population.
When we moved I went to visit it and it was so good to find books in my maternal language. I even participated, with my children, in a full room, to an animation in Portuguese. They have books in English, German, Albanese, Bosnian, Croat, Turkish, Tamil, Spanish, Arabic and French. That is amazing! Zurich has sixteen Pestalozzi libraries and I have already been to three: to Hardau, to Sihlcity and to Altstadt, which is older and bigger than the other two libraries. In all three we can find books in English, French and Italian, I believe, but I can visit again to check it. The particularity of these libraries is their good and modern organization.
I am now living in Oberrieden, and they have a nice local library here were I can drink a coffee for only fifty cents. They have also the particularity to offer, sometimes, books and other resources that they cannot support in their archives for free. The library is now in a modern building that is near the local secondary school and they have good documentation for this public. There is also a bookcase for English books.
The librarians are friendly and seem attentive to their public when they make new acquisitions. I happily found in the middle of the books dedicated to other lands: Portugal. I go their once a week and, for my children, a library is a normal place to go and has the good thing that we can take things almost for free; what we pay annually is almost nothing.
In Portugal municipal libraries don’t charge anything, at least the ones a known, but I don’t think that it is impolite to do so. For children it’s very good also find many games in the middle of the books, and they are very well taken care of. Before the new building, the library was a smaller space; more intimate were the bookcases where closer to each other and with a special room for the games, some steps down from the main room. My youngest son, who is five and doesn’t have much patience to hold a book for a long time, likes the games area and to check the round sticker where the recommend age is written. But he likes the library and sometimes he makes his choices and it’s funny to see what he likes to learn about: animals, the see, cars and story books probably chosen by their cover. The oldest, who is seven, is already a reader. He loves books, and when he cannot understand the words he follows the images. He likes to find books in the boxes of comics, but he was already interested in other kinds of books.
Of course both like DVDs but, as the TV has so much choice, they can live without them. Oberrieden library has also small boxes with toys and youngest son likes to go there.
Thalwil is only some minutes away from Oberrieden, by bus, by train or bicycle. By foot it can take more time but, on a day with nice weather, it can be an interesting walk. In Thalwil there is also a nice library, next to a dance school, a library called “Rosengarten”. The coffee there is a little more expensive, two Swiss Francs, but they have a good library for young children, and more books for adults to. The resources seem to be renewed often, and it’s easy to find books for many subjects. They have activities for young children. There are also books in English and French. They don’t have books in Portuguese, but I already saw a German translation of a book by Fernando Pessoa, a famous Portuguese writer, and they have CDs from Portuguese musicians.
From that library, which serves a bigger community than Oberrieden, we can bring a bag full of books, CDs, games and DVDs to the house. I have a card from both, and my children have a card for the library in Thalwil. As a father takes a boy to football, this mother shares her passion for libraries with her children, and I don’t spend so much money as in Shopping Centre.

Photo: Thalwil library

No comments:

Post a Comment