AIB Notizie 03/2004
To be a librarian (or not to be) in La Magdeleine
To be a librarian doesn't necessarily mean to be able to write, but at least it allows for some eccentricity... (is it really true that our category is the most subject to psychic illnesses?)
That's why I'll dare to write in English (which I love so much) what I probably would never attempt in my own tongue.
1.645 metres high - 95 residents - 1 church - 1 small everything-in-it-store - and... A LIBRARY!
- 3.600 volumes
- 400 acquisitions every year
- 20 resident members
- 100 non-resident members
- 700 loans every year
There were about 400 people living at La Magdeleine back in 1880 and they were an independent community, very hard to reach. Their names were Efisio, Mariolino, Bernadette... Annette. Today the resident children are 9 and their names are Patrick!, Ludvig!!, on one hand; Nabil..., Nadir... and Soumia..., on the other.
The library was opened in 1975, under the incentive of Capitano Lamberti, with books from small private donations and, for many years, was attended by the only unique public employee "ANNA DEL COMUNE" who would certify a birth, verify the state of the aqueduct, or of the cemetery, hand out a parking fine and... lend a book.
I arrived at La Magdeleine, as a librarian, in 1998, after twenty years or so of living abroad and, guess what? The library occupied the same space where the school was thirty years before and where I was sent for my first temporary post, being at that time a recent graduated schoolteacher. I immediately fell in love with the space, the place, the village, the Mount Tantané, the breathtaking panoramic view, the crispy clear air, and also with that big amount of books, those dark red hard covers, big volumes, all arranged together by size or color...
I soon realized that I had to get rid of almost all of them because of the mould and also because of their true uselessness and this faced me immediately with the resentment of many a few Magdeleins...
As you can suspect my first impact with the villagers was not very exciting. I thought they were rude and they thought I was presumptuous and it took us quite a bit to find a meeting point.
On the other hand, I was the joy of the tourists... They would have never expected to find a cultivated lady of the world up here, in this wild forgotten piece of Paradise...
So I made quite a lot of lady friends from Milan, Turin, Genoa. Mostly mothers, with longings of being better mothers... How? Through the books of course... And here they can meet their match since the specialty of our library is Psychology.
Now we have three internet desks. Three???
Yes, it had to be three or nothing. We participated in a project, sponsored by the UE, with five other neighbor villages. So finally my fellows Magdeleins will be able, between a hay harvest and a cow milk giving, to navigate on the waves of modernity, and my friends the tourists will stop bothering me with e-mail consultation anxiety on my computer!
We have two nice rooms with hand crafted pine furniture and, thanks to the extreme sensitivity of our Mayor (she is a lady!) we did added a wonderful Gonzagarredi counter and modern chairs and tables and electronic devices.
Last, but not least... at La Magdeleine we pretend to make people laugh (it's good for your lungs at this altitude). How? Through periodic and recurrent humoristic exhibitions, the most established one being O' visto un re. Every summer a humoristic artist would exhibit in our prestigious Sala Consigliare, invited by us and he or she (but there weren't any she until now...) would forge a king or queen to add to our collection.
What can I say about our mills? Yes, I said MILLS... WATER MILLS. There are seven, in a chain, restructured with the concern of the library and its commission, almost ready to become a "Museum Mile".
In winter time it can be difficult to arrive at La Magdeleine, some snowy day. But I tell you... when I'm up here I feel light, happy, white and sunny and refreshed, and when I come down to the valley, where I live, more than once I had to stop and admire a young deer crossing the road in the sunset, or a fox jumping over the bushes (or was it maybe sliding under the bushes...?).
COVOLO, Daria. To be a librarian (or not to be) in La Magdeleine «AIB Notizie», 16 (2004), n. 3, p. XI.
Copyright AIB, ultimo aggiornamento 2004-04-13 a cura di Franco Nasella