In 2002, when Wibha Lele took over the main Librarian volunteering job, the English Library had 5,000 books and 150 members. Now the library at St Paul’s Church in Monaco has 1,000 books and the membership has come down to 25.
But Wibha is still there, an avid reader herself, she is a business English teacher during the week, an energetic librarian on Saturday. “We lost people to Kindle,” she laughs, “and during Covid we had to close for six months.”
Over the last 20 years the membership fee hasn’t changed, still standing at 30 euros per year. You can borrow three books at a time for three weeks.
From the fee, Wibha buys new books and the library proudly shows off its numerous new titles. There are some classics, lots of thrillers, a big biographies section and also books written by a few residents. Nick Danziger’s out of print books are available too.
Tea, Coffee and biscuits are served without any charge to anyone who comes to the library by Stefani Cooper, otherwise known as Spooky, another volunteer, and not spooky at all.
Libraries suffer all around the world. This little gem in Monaco, established in 1937, is still surviving thanks to a positive attitude in the hardest of times.
“I believe in giving back to society,” says Wibha with a smile.
The St Paul’s English library is open every Saturday from 10:30 till 12:00.
PHOTO: Stefani Cooper (left) and Wibha Lele