French library premiers in Madawaska

French library premiers in Madawaska
Monday, November 08, 2004 - Bangor Daily News

MADAWASKA - The goal of promoting the French language in the St. John Valley has driven Le Club Francais to open the valley's first French language library. Located in the basement of Le Centre Francais de la Vallee St. Jean, Le Bibliotheque Mikesell has 8,000 volumes and continues to grow.

The effort to open the library has been a goal of Le Club Francais since it opened the French Center almost a year ago. The center itself is located in the former law offices of Rudolph Pelletier on 12th Avenue in Madawaska.

Scores of people attended the open house Saturday afternoon. 

"This is really a blessing," Carole Richards of Madawaska said in French on Saturday. "I didn't expect them to have all these wonderful books.

"It's nice to try to keep our culture alive, and be able to show it to our children," she said. "We can select books with our children, read to them, and teach them about their culture."

Richards, originally from Edmundston, New Brunswick, was at the library with her children, Julia, 7, and Sam, 3. By the time they left she had selected six French children's books for the age levels of both of her children.

While choosing the books, she enticed her children to help in the selection. While she was crouched in the children's area, Sam was sitting on the floor in the younger children's books area and Julia was several feet away in the older children's section.

Still in its infancy, the library has sections for both young and older readers and an education area for French language teachers in local schools. 

The walls have prints showing French culture, including one of the Gran Derangement when Acadians were expelled from Gran Pre, Nova Scotia, by the British in the mid-1700s. The print is a copy of an original painting that hangs in the University of Moncton in New Brunswick.

The library has fiction and nonfiction sections, French literature, research books, recordings, educational books for teachers, movies, CDs, tapes, framed postcards of major French cities, dictionaries, resource materials for science and mathematics, French encyclopedias, boxes of games, magazines and the large section of children's books.

They have a takeout service, and books - such as dictionaries - for sale. They have a section where teachers can take out enough books of one kind for an entire classroom of students.

Posters on the walls help children with the alphabet, teaching the French names of colors, verb tenses and even facial expressions.

The facility even has a section where books are free for the taking. They are mostly for young children, books that parents can use to help them teach their children French.

"It's quite a collection," said Guy Dubay, a local historian and genealogist. "Now we have to find readers."

Nicole Ouellette, the director of the French Center, said scores of people and organizations assisted in getting the library set up. A framed list of names showed 20 or more promoters.

Noella Simard of St. Leonard, New Brunswick, donated boxes of books when she learned of the effort, Ouellette said. They had assistance from Le Conseil de la Vie Francaise from Quebec City and Le Centre Franco-Americain at the University of Maine.

Organizers have been working on setting up the library over the past year, since they opened the French Center, Ouellette said. Local people gave them hundreds of books.

"We just want people to come in and use the library," Ouellette said. "We also need volunteers to expand our hours."

The library will be open whenever the center is open. For now, Ouellette said, that is most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The hours are expected to grow as volunteers are found. 


Bangor Publishing Company

For an article in French with photos of the library:
Ouverture d'une nouvelle bibliothèque pour desservir les francophones de Madawaska, au Maine


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