The Sainte-Anne library or the art of establishing links with books

The Sainte-Anne library was created at the initiative of Denise Fortin, librarian at École Pointes-des-Chênes, and Annette Charrière, a kindergarten teacher from Sainte-Anne. In 1990 they opened a first space dedicated to books in the convent of the Gray Nuns that was located at the level of the current Villa Youville.

Portrait of Denise Fortin hung on a wall in the Sainte-Anne Library in tribute to what she has given to the community.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathilde Gautier

Denise Fortin died in 1993 and her parents’ house was bought in 1994 to install the Sainte-Anne library. Clément Charrière, Annette’s husband, will work hard there to transform the place.

Exterior entrance to a library.

The library of Sainte-Anne.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathilde Gautier

Today, Francophones and Anglophones are used to going there to borrow books and to meet there.

People pass by whether they come to pick up a book or not. It may be just to say hello and exchange a few words.reports library director Bridget Crevier.

Woman in a wheelchair smiling.

Bridget Crevier is the new director of the Sainte-Anne Library in Manitoba since October 2022.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathilde Gautier

The book as a social link

Beyond its classic role of disseminating culture, the library unites the community in Sainte-Anne.

Nerve center of the city, the library functions as what could be called a third place, that is to say, a place dedicated to social ties in a town, which is neither the home nor the place of work or study.

Yoga classes are held there three mornings a week.

Yoga classes were held in the park behind the church and the group was looking for a place to continue through the winter. The first lesson in the library was given before Christmas.says Bridget Crevier.

Participants see several advantages. I find it very relaxing to do yoga in a library. It is also the time when I look at the titles of the books and it relaxes me.reports one of the participants, Isabelle Aubin.

Ladies lying on a yoga mat in a library.

The yoga class takes place three times a week in the Sainte-Anne library.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathilde Gautier

For the elderly who cannot move, every two weeks a volunteer comes to lend books to take them to the elderly of Villa Youville.

Pat Krushak has offered this service for seven years. When I work with older people, it warms my heart, it gives me a lot of satisfaction. I like small communities, because we meet the same people and it allows us to create bonds.says the volunteer.

This service is necessary for the elderly who sometimes can no longer go out. They don’t need to go out. Sidewalks can be slippery for them.explains Pat Krushak.

Two women seated at a table on which books are placed.

Pat Krushak brings books to the seniors of Villa Youville every week. Elizabeth Fillion is a great regular and great consumer of books.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathilde Gautier

Elizabeth Fillion, a resident of Villa Youville, happily benefits from this service.

For me it is as important as breathing. I need it to drive away boredom. When I read, I’m in another world and I’m fine. »

a quote from elizabeth fillon

For younger children, the library is a way to socialize and obtain resources in French.

Cultural activities in French

On Saturday mornings, the library offers story timean hour of reading in French for parents and children led by librarian Chloé Champagne.

Parents are interested in this event. It gives the opportunity to get out of the house to meet other parents. It allows young people to develop their interest in books.explains Bridget Crevier.

Books are stored on shelves and ottomans are on the floor for seating.

The children’s corner of the Sainte-Anne library is separated into two spaces. French books have a blue dot and English books are yellow.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathilde Gautier

A French book club has also just been launched in collaboration with the Sainte-Anne Cultural Committee.

The main goal is to make people want to read in French.

I wanted to attract more people to the library, so we partnered with the Sainte-Anne Cultural Committee to offer a French-language book club.reports Bridget Crevier.

Laughing woman with a book in her hands.

During the French Book Club, Diane Connelly recommended this little book for learning michif, published in 2016. She would have found it very useful when she met her husband, who is from Saint-Laurent and speaks michif.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathilde Gautier

To be as inclusive as possible, the book club does not mandate a particular book to read.

The goal is to get together, discuss a book we have read, talk about what interests us, and make suggestions.specifies the general director of the Cultural Committee, Diane Connelly.

books for everyone

According to data from the province of Manitoba, 28.7% of the Sainte-Anne library’s collection is in French, but Brigitte Crevier’s goal is to reach 50%.

For her, this balance is important, especially since she is an Anglophone, is married to a Francophone, and their children are bilingual.

It is a French-speaking town, but it is a bilingual municipality. Everyone mixes here. »

a quote from Bridget Crevier, director of the Sainte-Anne library

Bridget Crevier has also committed to renewing the collection of documentaries in French.

She explains that she noticed that, for several years, the library had not purchased any non-fiction books in French. We have customers who are very happy to have something new in French.she is glad.

This is supplemented by an internal loan program among Manitoba libraries.

This system allows, in particular, access to the collections of all libraries, including the Millennium library in Winnipeg. The books go through Canada Post at no cost to users.

If a customer is looking for a particular book and I don’t have it, I can bring it from another community in Manitoba.explains the head of the Sainte-Anne library.

This is good for rural libraries because it gives us access to all the book collections in the province. I’ve already brought books by Dauphin or Brandon. »

a quote from Bridget Crevier, Library Director
Women in wheelchairs sticking a label in a pocket.  The books are on the table.

Bridget Crevier brings books from other libraries in the province through a loan system.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathilde Gautier

E-books are also attracting French-speaking readers who read on tablets.

The application offered with the Manitoba Libraries subscription offers approximately 3,000 references in French.

The interest of this application lies in audiobooks for people with disabilities. One of my clients is a great reader, but he has gone blind. I was able to help her access the audiobooks.says Bridget Crevier.

Shop local for even more books

Bridget Crevier set out to buy the books locally. She orders hers at the Winnipeg McNally and À la page bookstores.

We don’t have a bookstore in Sainte-Anne, but I do work with bookstores in Winnipeg. It is a victory for everyone, since it is a support for local bookstores and we have a 25% discount as a provincial educator.reports Bridget Crevier.

The library board also authorized her to purchase Scholastic books at book fairs organized by the three Sainte-Anne schools.

Out of an annual book purchase budget of $10,000, he spent nearly $1,500 on schools.

It costs us less because we don’t pay taxes on school book sales and it gives schools money to buy books for their libraries. With less money spent, there are many more books in the hands of all these people.Bridget Crevier enthuses.

This report is published as part of a partnership with libraries in various French-speaking towns in Manitoba. Our journalists will be in various libraries between January and March and will give workshops, among other things. Do not hesitate to greet them!

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