Ayo and I went to our city’s central library this morning (pictured above). We sort of had to. Bringing up Bébé was due on Saturday (thankfully, there is a two day grace period) and our branch around the corner is closed on Mondays. It’s hardly a chore to go there. The library has a new set of two conveyor belts behind a tall glass window. You can insert your returns into the slot and watch them make their journey to a cart on wheels. There are usually employees behind the glass wall ensuring your book makes it safely to the cart. What a job. The window has a large sign saying “We can’t hear you! For questions, go to one of the reception desks.” We can’t hear you – that’s pretty funny.
After returning our book, Ayo was my perfect excuse to check out the children’s section. It’s like a whole world in bright colors with computers with rainbow keyboards, books of every color and colorful things hanging off the walls. Even the librarian had a multicolored belt on. We checked out some books: Minutka the bilingual dog (a Mandarin/English bilingual board book that I got in French/English as well), Die kleine Maus, die süsse rote Erdbeere und der dicke hungrige Bär, Polis, poils et repoils, Les Quatre Saisons de Simon and Ours brun, dis-moi. There isn’t a huge array of foreign language books for Ayo’s age. I might have checked them all out. Apparently they have shelves full of Spanish books. But the selection of English books for kids is truly astounding and inviting.
As I was using the self checkout machine (decked out with an infrared ray to automatically assign the books to your card), I saw a family of five who clearly wasn’t from the States. The family was sort of dressed as if they were going sailing on a yacht. You know the look: sweaters with a thread count of about 400, neatly tied around necks and bright white shorts with pleats and fancy faux casual shoes. People really don’t dress up in the children’s section of the library in the States. I dressed up and I wore jeans and some heels. They had the bourgeois French family look. One of the kids was taking photos and the little girl was trying to figure out how to click on Dora the Explorer’s wardrobe on her rainbow keyboard. I took exxxtra long to check out my little books hoping I’d hear another language. Sure enough, mama chic utters some French. I tried to play it easy breezy à la mamabud with my casual but really eager: oohh, vous parlez français?
Mama chic told me yes and am I French too? To which I responded some version of: yes but no. You know, my usual clear-cut answer. Mama chic was on holiday in the States and wanted to stop by an American library because it is so amazing. It’s free entertainment for the whole day. My jaw dropped too when I first found out the checkout limit was 300 items including bestsellers, latest magazines, recent movies and audiobooks. “Three HUNDRED?” I had asked, incredulous. Then I found out that you can borrow any book from any library throughout the entire United States at no extra cost and I too really fell in love with the library. I agreed with her that the library system here is incredible and wished her a fantastic holiday. After all, the interaction with her made my day. Now mama chic thinks that all Americans are not only super nice but also speak fluent French. 😉