So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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Leaving and letting go

I’ve run the village library for over five years now and have loved every minute, especially the training weeks in Strobl, which were almost like a holiday! The only downside was that all the books were in German, snigger! I can read them, but it’s such a long, slow process that I’d rather be in English on my Kindle.

I ran it a lot on my own as no one would come and help (was it me?), and so was limited on how many events and meetings I could do. But I had two teenagers for a couple of years, and we did the Advent market in Burg Finstergruen, standing in the cold for two days at something minus selling our discarded books. We did a Fairy tale day there too with a picture book cinema on the projector. I moved the rooms so all the children’s books and adults were separate, started our own Picture book cinemas, got a road sign, as half the people didn’t know where the library was. Offered a book delivery service to no interest.

We had special advents in the library, with cakes, biscuits and coffee. We wrapped discarded books for surprise Christmas presents which went down well! Put a sofa in one corner so people could relax, I think it was mostly bounced on by the kids! A highlight was when the kindergarten kids would visit, bringing a welcome noise and chaos, I would ask them their full names when they got their books, that the pace was a tip afterwards was better than order. I did read to them sometimes, but that was difficult as they didn’t understand my accent! Readers’ summer, where the kids would have a little books and got a stamp, after three visits they got a free ice cream at the shop. Ran it for adults too, and the most active got a bottle of wine at the end of summer!

Then Ingrid came along and for a while it was wonderful, we ran summer events for the kids and had a ball. Then the bug came along and Ingrid returned to work. We used the time to do an inventory, but something went wrong and half the books we thought had gone, later turned up! Then I was on my own again, then with the move, trying to find a successor. In the end, I put an ad on a local Facebook group and I now have two ladies taking over, sharing the library between them. We had the Mayor and deputy mayor come and do a farewell bit, speeches and flowers which I loved and a voucher for the restaurants in the village, Dave and I will feast for the next couple of Sundays. I just wish I had known that the council had a huge store of photos and documents that need cataloging, would have been a job right up my street.

So, I’ve trained them in the system, them doing in six weeks, what I did in eighteen months, and I won’t be sad never to have to do the yearly registration form again. I’ll miss the quiet air in there, the friendship of other librarians, we’re a special lot, and the fun when we had events. I hope I may find a library near our new home, and all the books will be in English, I can shop for second hand ones again, collect horse books….


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Qualified!

In August, I was in Strobl on my last week of librarian training. It proved a magical time. We were all meeting for the third time, so we were all forming friendships, although they are now lost forever. I just so enjoyed being alone in the evenings with a walk to the village. lake Wolfgang is beautiful, and I guess other less built up lakes are more so, but for me, it was healing and quiet. I did have a swim in the lake, but the water was lower and I don’t like putting my feet on the bottom, so that wasn’t so great!

I presented my project as a poem which got a huge laugh to my relief. We had body language training which proved really helpful. Worst was the first day when we did a revision of the course and I couldn’t remember half of it and had forgotten my notes. Only too find others were in the same boat! Relief!

It was the last day that blew me away. We had all had our certificates, so we sat in the warm sunshine in the grounds by the lake, just to the right of the photo. Where I sat, I could see the lake, hear the small waves, watch people paddling and water skiing in the distance. The drone of the boats was familiar to when we lived by the sea. It was all sooooo peaceful. We sat as a group and all talked about our favourite books and their part in our lives.

Then we went to the classroom and had a sort of closing ceremony. One of the leaders, Gabi has retired and this was her last course. We had got all the leaders flowers and presented them. Then Andrea welled up and I think we all did a bit too, maybe because it was Gabi’s last but also because, as she said, we had such good camaraderie and spirit the course was special. We all then said our goodbyes and went home, me with a great peace over the whole thing. I understand there is a refresher course in five years, Oh I hope so!!!!!


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My Library!

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In June I had to go off for the second part of my library training in Strobl in Salzkammergut. so here’s some piccies of the Ramingstein Bücherei where I’ll be spending a fair amount of time in the coming years!  FB click on the link!


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Becoming a Librarian

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Home made advertising in one of the libraries!

Becoming a librarian is my latest challenge, I wanted to start a scheme in the village to get books to the old folks and Annie (the Bucherei leader) said if I wanted to do this, then I had to take over the library as she wants to retire. I had considered this before, and this time it seemed right.

So training is needed! I was booked to go to the Salzkammergut for a week shortly after we returned from the UK. At least obsessing about this stopped me feeling homesick! Luckily I got a lift from two other women from a another local library (every village in Lungau seems to have one). I so enjoyed sitting in the back of a car and being a passenger!

We were going to a village called Strobl, and when we arrived it seemed the Salzkammergut had got all our snow and it looked idyllic as we drove around St Wolfgang See. People rave about the area, but to me it looked very overdeveloped with holiday houses.

The training centre was gifted to the people  after the war, and was in a beuatiful  area. I had a room to myself and that I was looking forward to, no dog and no husband – more of this later! I had to register as Gluten free but the cook was very helpful.

We were a little early and we did the wandering around looking at people out of the corner of our eyes thinking who are they, are they on the course?? I was really freaked out at the thought of all this week just in German, and I allowed myself my pre exam freak out, of going to pieces completely inside, self pity and wanting to run away, then pulled myself together, it always works! But I did burble when asked to introduce myself, but at least they knew I wasn’t Austrian!

We did Ice breakers, and through the week learnt about  cataloging, systematizing, law, yearly reports, funding, all the government agencies, we visited an old and a new library, did role play, presented a kids book, it was full on intensive, but well run and organised. I got my certificate, and am looking forward to the next part in June, we have to plan and run a project in the village and present it on the last week next year!

Each night we had a drink in the bar, and then I took myself to bed. I found the sitting all day really difficult, as I’m used to dog walking a couple of hours each day, I wish I had used the gym- if I can’t go for a brisk walk on the next course, I will! I was also really hungry, as the GF diet meant some days I got just meat and veges, fruit (no cakes for me) no spuds, no one in the kitchen seemed to read my order, on the last day I went and demanded some some!  So I got hungry and then the wine on an empty stomach gave me both heartburn and a carbohydrate rush, so I didn’t sleep well. But it was nice having the room to myself!

I saw changes in myself, I used to rush in to be the first to do things in exercises to get it over, now I left it as long as possible to learn from the others how to do things and speak them! I was expecting people to find me different, so I got attention and I did have to tell my Austrian story a lot but by the end I just wanted to merge!

I’m 57 this year, when I write that,it’s scary, but inside I’m still me doing another challenge, which I need for my self worth. I’ve got a goal and a sense of having almost too much to do now, which is better than the post Christmas gloom. Its even been a struggle to find time to write this, but I must!!!


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The Library

p1320417I’ve now started my apprenticeship at the library and am learning my new trade. Annie is patiently showing me the filing system, how its been organised, how she orders books. She orders through the suppliers and says the books are often a bit old, so I suggested the Amazon Bestsellers list, she’d never heard even of Katie Fforde. There’s sections where a writer has got popular and she’s got lots of titles, and then people go off them. Apparently someone came in a while ago and they had a chuck of all the unused books, there is a way to sort this on the system.

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I went in on a Wednesday with Linda, to have no customers!  But we used the time with a lesson in new book covering! The playschool comes in once a month, but all along, there are very few customers.  The library is open three days a week, Monday and Wednesday mornings and Friday evenings. Something I think I will change, so long as the total time is six hours a week!  There is an uncomfortable table and chairs and my first move will be to put a small sofa there!

Oh, I’ve so many ideas, kids clubs, reading club,  taking the library to the old, housebound folks in the village,even coffee mornings!!!! I went to a regional meeting last week and for such a small area, the Lungau there is a library in all the major villages and with support form the county, reading schemes, special weeks, it couldn’t be more intensive. Some libraries even open on a Saturday!

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The library moved to its current home in the early 90s, seemingly  with a charismatic leader. There were book readings and a lot of older folks talking to kids, sleepovers for the kids, all of which must be time consuming. A lot of these folks have now passed on!I get the impression that Annie and Linda are burnt out, and it is time for a new brush. I will however, only commit to 5 years. I will need to raise the profile and find a bigger team of helpers!  Annie has warned me that it can take over your life, an for little pay.

I may be able to take my first training in January, which should be a challenge. When we go over to the UK  at Christmas I’m hoping that I can go around and shamelessy  steal ideas. But I’m loving it, even if the books are in German!