Regular readers will know that Roomie and I had our wallet stolen, while I was trying to load her and her stroller onto a crowded city-center bus one late-autumn evening.
I got the wallet back a week or so later, but only after I’d wasted days applying for new documents (identity card, driving licence, health card, etc) and payment cards to the replace the ones I’d lost.
Everything was inside, except the cash of course, including my membership card for the Bologna Library system, which I hadn’t used or thought of since at least 2015. But there’s only enough time in the day, right?
As fall/autumn got colder and darker, starting around the time I was robbed, we could no longer take Roomie to the park after daycare, so had to scratch around for suitable alternatives, one of which was Bologna’s former stock exchange, now a library with historical ruins, the Salaborsa.
It has plenty of space, it’s warm, there’s a bar, and dedicated spaces for kids. Stefi, my wife, is a total bookworm, so was enthusiastic to hang out there with Roomie. While I could sit and mind the stroller and pile of winter coats, fire up my laptop to catch up on work stuff, or read the newspaper on my phone, all with a clear conscience.
On the bus home (wallet zipped away safely), Stefi thrust a leaflet into my hand, something she’d picked up in the Salaborsa. Library members, I read, can get free access to tens of thousands of ebooks and, better still, browse newspapers and magazines from Italy and around the world, all from the comfort of their own laptops or phones, no winter coats required.
Well, I thought, that would be worth a look-see! So yesterday, Stefi, Roomie and I dropped by our local library (another welcome port in the storm on cold, dark evenings when there are still hours to go until TV time and dinner) to ask for an online account to be created for me.
They checked my ID, wondered why they hadn’t seen me around for seven years, and efficiently set things up so I’d get an email with login details and password. While drinking fizzy wine and eating pandoro.
Later, at home, I spent an hour figuring out how it all worked, downloading not one but two free apps to my smartphone, keying in access information, and generally experimenting.
One app is to ‘borrow’ ebooks, which I tried to do with, initially, not much success, but then managed to get my hands on ‘La legge dell’innocenza’ by Michael Connelly, an American thriller writer who I used to read before kids, running businesses, and so on, took over my life.
The second app is for reading the press, which is something I do usually find time for. So I played with that, and quickly got access to newspapers in Swedish, Italian, French and Spanish, including El Pais, which I’d had a subscription to until recently, but let lapse. Now that cheered me up!
So great, now I can read newspapers in the languages I’m learning for free, when I’m not washing dishes or cooking meals for the ninety-nine people currently treating my house as a hotel.
Later in the evening, Stefi was knitflixing as usual (knitting and watching Netflix) and Roomie was glued to Bing or Curious George on the living room flat screen TV. I was too tired for more work, but it was still too early to collapse, exhausted, into bed, so I fired up the first of the two new apps, located the Connelly ebook, and started to read:
“Defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a client in the trunk of his Lincoln.” (Find out more here.)
I was reading in Italian, of course, but though I hadn’t read an Italian novel for years, I do read in Italian on a daily basis, so it wasn’t a big effort. An hour passed without me even noticing. At the point I put the smartphone down, Haller was in court, defending himself from murder charges.
Libraries! I remember now. As a kid my mum used to take us to one on Saturday mornings, we’d borrow the maximum number of books we were allowed, and carry them home like treasure, in plastic supermarket bags, to read during the week.
When I was a little older, I’d walk into town each week with my younger sister, so we could both stock up. I must have had the library habit more or less until I went away to college, then sporadically afterwards, as I have fond memories of the British Council libraries in Ankara, Turkey, and in Wrocław, Poland.
It was only when I came to Italy that I lost the habit. There were no libraries with English books then, so I had to learn to read all over again, in Italian, which I did by using ‘gialli’ (detective fiction) purchased cheap from newsstands.
Clearly though, libraries still exist, at least in places which allocate money for culture. And now, with the digital options, they seem to be worth exploring again!
Perhaps you too could dig out an unused library card (or go and ask for one), then check out what resources they have that might help with your language learning?
It’s got to be worth a try.
Buon natale a tutti, by the way.
Over Christmas I’m anticipating having time to make progress with defense attorney Haller, but also browse the international press, while my mother-in-law prepares the meals and washes up!
Just a quick reminder – the January Sale in our two online stores begins next week. Regular online students should get first crack at the coupon code on Monday. Ebook buyers will be sent details on how to save 20% on Tuesday, and the sale begins properly on Wednesday, then runs until the following Friday, January 6th, 2023.
I will, of course, be mentioning all that again next week.
Also not to forget: our Italian school in Bologna is currently running a promotion for courses in 2023.
The ‘Save 20% on 2023 Italian Courses’ offer ends on Christmas day, so in not much more than 48 hours.
Why choose us, amongst many possible study travel destinations?
Check out these recent articles on the school website!
- 2023 Italian Course Offer: Why learn Italian?
- 2023 Italian Course Offer: Why Study Italian in Bologna?
- 2023 Italian Course Offer: Why Study Italian at Madrelingua?
Have you read/listened to Thursday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news? Like libraries, it’s FREE!