Interview with Laura Silvestru, Deputy Coordinator of the Department for International Relationships of the “George Bariţiu” Public Library Braşov

Laura sits everyday in her office, the same since she has started his career at the George Bariţiu Public Library in 1997. Despite of this long time, for her each day is completely different. Her activity represents a continuous challenge, where constantly changing, where new and old generations find a meeting point, where the culture represents the core of the social life for most of them. Into this high intellectual atmosphere, Laura tries to implement day by day a dynamic culture program, new activities that help people to increase their level of English, culture and language.

She is a modern woman, born in a large family as the youngest of three women. And later, also a mother of a 12 years-old son and a dedicated hard-worker. Despite she was born in Brasov, Laura graduated at the University of Craiova in 1995. She started as a librarian since 1987 at the University Library of Brasov and continued her career till now at the George Bariţiu Public Library. Thanks to her availability, we could continue knowing more about her and the library through the following conversation:

Why have you decided to take studies related with foreign languages. How many languages can you speak?

It was a matter of hazard, because I have not a real talent in speaking foreign languages. Honestly, I was so poor at math in school that I had to choose a completely opposite career. I speak English and Russian.

 How did you get this job? How long are you here? What are your main tasks and duties?

 In 1997, I was transferred from the University Library to the Public Library, so I’ve worked here for 15 years. My main duties are, among others, to coordinate the activity of my department, to organize cultural activities based on our library profile, to start and maintain partnerships with libraries from abroad, to find out new possibilities of cultural partnerships with other libraries or cultural institutions from abroad.

How is your daily routine?

All I know is that my work day starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Every day is completely different from the previous one. Of course, when we organize conferences or other cultural activities, my schedule is changed according to the requirements.

What kind of  activities do you develop within the Library? How often do they take place?

I don’t want to take the credit for developing the cultural activities all by myself. This is a teamwork. We organize film projections, workshops, culture clubs, round tables, meetings in non-conventional places, book & art exhibitions. They take place weekly or monthly, according to our user needs.

Which are the main partners of your library ? (other libraries, international agents, local partners…)

 We use to have partnerships with different kind of associations (Colors, for instance), with The French Alliance in Braşov, with the “Transylvania” University (organizing The International Library Conference, every year, or The American Culture Club, organized together with the students in the American Studies), with The Memorial Museum Muresianu’s House Brasov, with The “Reduta” Cultural Centre, with The Popular Art School Braşov (we exhibit the art works of their students) and many others.

Is the English community in Brasov and in your library a big one? Who are the main beneficiaries? Are the foreigners interested in Romania and vice versa? Tell me about the American Club.

 We couldn’t talk about an English community in Braşov, British or American, in the true sense of the word. Our library is visited by tourists, a few volunteers working in Braşov, or those citizens who choose to live in Romania for a while. They are certainly interested in Romania, this is why they are here, shorter or longer, but many of them are also interested in our daily life, our habits and traditions. As for the interest of our users in the English language, culture and civilisations, obviously it is a high one, and this is the main reason our department born. It is the same with the French. Regarding the Hungarian Centre, this is quite different. There is a large Hungarian community, not only in Braşov, but also in the neighbouring counties. There is also a very prestigious Hungarian high-school in our city and two large universities in Transylvania.

The American Club has started as an initiative of the students from the “Transylvania” University (Faculty of Philology – American Studies). They come at the library monthly meeting other students and our library users, interested on the event they propose: Student Art Exhibition, Martin Luther King Day, Sitcom Night, Halloween Party, Thanksgiving Event, Christmas Event, only to give you a few examples. The atmosphere they want to create is a friendly, non –conventional one, and their success proved that people with completely different personal backgrounds meet each other gathered by a mutual topic of interest.

Do you usually organize events in other places than the library? Where?

 By definition, the new role of the library is to meet the community information, education, or leisure needs, inside and outside its premises. Consequently, my colleagues adapt the library offer to this aim: the parks, the main square of the old city, the Nursing Home, the Codlea Penitenciary, the schools, highschools and university in Braşov, the History Museum, the Ethnographic Museum are some of the places where we meet our users, adults, youngsters or children.

Regarding to the art/book exhibitions you display inthe library, where the artworks come from?

 The book exhibitions are part of our routine. They are our way to promote reading and the library collection, but also to offer specific information (about significant authors, new releases or important events).

On the other hand, the art exhibitions are part of the new role of the library, as a space of confluence of the arts. In the same way the library “gets out” from its conventional premises, other cultural institutions can enter it. The Popular Art School or The Associations of the Professional Painters or the Amateur Artists exhibit their artworks (paintings, sculptures, engravings, drawings, sketches, tapestries) in different places from the library enjoying the people who, mainly, come here to read and offering a pleasant surprise.

Is there any activity that you’ve liked in particular?

 I cannot think about something in particular. However, the dialogue with our users, meeting people and talk to them I consider as being the most attractive part of my job. I am a talkative, honest and cheerful person, so to communicate is my greatest talent.

Your work is related to languages and communication. It is very important because people use communication in everything, and this ability sometimes affords you to work better inside teams ….According with some of linguistic researches, is it true that according on the language you speak,  you have a different way of thinking?

In this case, tell me about the differences you feel between Romanian and English thinking!

I really don’t think that language and thinking are just simply linked without involving the human factor. A Romanian doesn’t think in a way and a British otherwise, but every single person speaks and thinks according to his/her feelings, professional background, education or mood. So, in my opinion, it is not a matter of similarity or difference, but a matter of the personal approach or perspective of any person.

Do you think that culture and reading are important? Why?

 Culture is more and more an abstract precept. It is seen as a civilizing factor or a source for the general progress. The better educated society, the higher standard of living for the country and its people. Culture is also the symbol a nation can identify itself with. On the other hand, the reading is only a tool. An useful one, in order to help yourself in building your education, your nature, your world and life perception. And the added benefit would be that you do something really good for yourself in a quite pleasant way, don’t you?

What do you like more about your work? Is it satisfying?

 Even after 25 years, I still find every day full of pleasant surprises. There is no routine, boredom, commonplaces, clichés. Obviously, through such a long career there were moments of complete professional satisfaction and I really hope that they will also appear in the years to come. A good sense of humor will carry me through them.


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