Friday 23 Apr 2021

Guardians, guides and storytellers – Meet Ecolint’s Librarians

Ensconced behind a pile of books, reading out loud to a group of wide-eyed students, guiding readers to the perfect book, unpacking and shelving the latest acquisitions – we exchanged with some of the librarians of Ecolint, who shared their literary favourites and trade secrets.

Frédéric Duchêne
Librarian, Secondary School, La Châtaigneraie
Years at Ecolint: 20
My work is both technical and very people-oriented. These two aspects combine to provide the best possible service to students and teachers, in the most varied fields: reading of course, but also research and information use. It’s pleasant to switch quickly from one subject to another according to user’s needs in history or science, for example, or to give advice on evaluation or referencing of sources.
A favourite book? The Owl of Minerva, the memoirs of the German writer Gustav Regler.
A library is built over time; so is the pleasure its users have in returning to it and the efficiency with which they use it. It is the enthusiasm to continue this work that motivates me every morning. 
In Secondary, our younger students are often already avid borrowers. The real challenge for us is to maintain their love of reading as they grow older and their social and academic lives take up more and more of their time. The key is to have a wide-ranging and well-catalogued selection that matches their interests and stimulates them by virtue of its variety and novelty.

Kathryn Concannon
Primary Years Librarian, Campus des Nations
Years at Ecolint: 17
The best thing about being a librarian is the chance to work with families and students over years, not just one school year. I help students find their own voice through stories, and introduce them to amazing, life-changing authors and illustrators. Through the library, students develop their whole selves; finding answers to their questions and new questions that set them on vastly different paths.
A favourite book? I could no more name my favourite student or star in the sky!
My fondest memory at Ecolint is from my first year at Pregny in 2003. We had a sleepover for Year 5 and 6 students as a prize for reading a million minutes as a school, and we took them up to the roof for ghost stories. 
The best way to encourage a love of reading is for parents to read to their children as much and for as long as the children will let them. There are many benefits to reading aloud that go far beyond hearing a story read. It is also important that children see the grown ups around them reading and finding pleasure in it.

Brigitte Widmer
Librarian, Secondary School, La Grande Boissière
Years at Ecolint: 10 
I like working in a library because it is a stimulating place that leads me to make interesting discoveries in different fields every day. I also enjoy the variety of my job, which allows me to work on several projects, recommend readings according to students' tastes and interests, and explain how to find library resources.
My favourite book? This is something that has changed over time. As a teenager, I loved the Québecois author Michel Tremblay. Then I discovered Russian literature - Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment was one of my favourites. Later on, Egyptian authors like Naguib Mafouz, Albert Cossery and Alaa Al-Aswany enchanted me.
One of the highlights at Ecolint are author visits to the library. These are special moments that allow for beautiful exchanges with the students. These meetings are great opportunities to promote and encourage reading for pleasure.

Isabelle Seiler
Librarian, Primary School, La Châtaigneraie
Years at Ecolint: 9
There is nothing like reading a book to children and seeing their faces marvel as the story progresses. Every day is different and you never know where they will lead you in their quest for the perfect book. 
"It's the time you wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important" said the Fox to the Little Prince - and that's the most important thing about children, "wasting" or rather taking time with and for them, to show them how important and unique they are to us. It goes without saying that my favourite book is none other than The Little Prince by Saint-Exupéry. 
My favourite moments at Ecolint? La Nuit du Conte that our library has been organising for years now. Each time it is a magical moment for families, a moment of sharing, exchanging and dreaming. Children and parents come out of the evening with a few stars in their eyes and, I hope, the desire to read a few more stories. 
In fact, there is no need for a magic formula to make people love reading. If you can make a book or a story feel "alive", children will want to discover it. With the little ones, using different voices and making them participate in the story is a success 99% of the time.

John Kolosowski
Senior Librarian, Primary School, La Châtaigneraie
Years at Ecolint: 6
There are so many wonderful things about being a librarian. I would have to say that the best thing is the special ‘power’ that we have in instilling a love of reading into the young minds that we meet each and every day.
I have many favourite books so it's difficult to choose just one. This year [2018], my favourite book is Flamingo Boy by Michael Morpurgo. 
As for my fondest memory at Ecolint, I’d say it was the day when the whole school community came dressed as characters from books, and we had characters from all over the world.
I think that the best technique to encourage students to love reading is to show passion and enthusiasm. They need to see that YOU get excited and enjoy sharing your thoughts and feelings about books. When I get excited about what I read, I share this with my students and I find that this makes them want to read and share their own reading adventures. 


This is an updated version of an article originally published in the autumn 2018 issue of Echo magazine.

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