The Library’s strategic partnerships manager Pauline Lemasson recently interviewed the Library’s “volunteer” Volunteer Coordinator Danielle Typinski on what brought her to Paris, how she found out about the Library, and what she enjoys most about volunteering. Danielle joined the Library’s volunteer team in 2018, and shortly became the volunteer coordinator. Her duties include maintaining communication between the Library staff and our more than 50 volunteers, scheduling meetings and trainings, overseeing the volunteer calendar, among many responsibilities. If you’re interested in joining the Library’s volunteer team, please fill out the online application.
What brought you to Paris? What do you like most about the city?
Mark my husband accepted a new position with the U.S. Base Military Commission based in Paris back in March 2018. He left a 16-year position with the Department of State as a Diplomatic Security Agent to pursue his interests in American military history, particularly WWI, and to give us the chance to live in one place long term.
What do I love most about Paris: Hearing French everywhere I go and finally getting to a point where understand most of what I’m eavesdropping on. Getting out at the Pont d’Alma metro station on the way to the Library and seeing the Eiffel Tower RIGHT THERE. The opportunities for learning about art, culture, and especially medieval history and illuminated manuscripts. A glass of wine being acceptable at lunch. The chance to travel multiple cities of interest via train. Posters in the Metro that celebrate books and the La Grand Librarie TV show with Francois Brusnel (who I admit having a small crush on, please don’t tell Mark). Being able to call Paris home.
How did you find about the American Library in Paris?
Being ex-foreign service, we’ve traveled a lot and libraries have always been my go-to for finding my immediate community. I haunted the city library in Luxembourg, volunteered several hours a week at the Arlington County library in Virginia, and spent lots of time in the regional library in Pretoria, South Africa. Regarding the American Library in Paris, my husband worked with Karen at the USBMC who is married to Morgan, the Library’s previous Volunteer Program Coordinator and I sent him an email in April 2018 and the rest is history.
What do you like best about volunteering at the Library?
Getting to know the amazing individual stories of each volunteer and employee. Working with volunteers and the public who love reading and books just as much as I do. Helping in a small way to make the Library a success as an important and essential community for the city of Paris. Learning about new authors. Seeing new books coming in. Discovering long-published authors for the first time. Helping others discover new favorites. Having a community that I know and that know me, making Paris feel more like home than any other foreign place I’ve lived. Making a positive difference, no matter how seemingly minor.
What is something you really want to do in Paris but haven’t gotten around to it yet?
This is about the eighth time I’ve been to Paris (we lived in Luxembourg from 2011-2014) so I’ve done a lot of the museums and standard tourist stuff. But I still haven’t climbed to the top of Notre Dame to see the gargoyles, been to one of the concerts at Eglise Saint Julien, perused the old flea markets (especially the ones with old books), taken historical walking tours of each arrondisement and embarrassingly, made friends with our very loud neighbors. Mark and I like our quiet an haven’t warmed up to their circus-performing habits yet. We’ve made friends with our grocer and fruit man and local jardinière and Picard grocers and hair stylist and vino man and the boulangerie ladies but the neighbors are something we struggle with. But never say never, right?
What book(s) are you enjoying right now?
I am not a read-one-book-at-a-time kind of reader. Right now I have four books on my nightstand: The Age of Horses by Sussana Forest, Bede’s The Ecclesiastical History of English History (because I love Anglo-Saxon history), In Defense of Sanity: The Essays of G.K Chesterton who is someone I just started reading and can’t believe I only just discovered, (because the man is a GENIUS) and Pearls Takes A Wrong Turn by Stephen Pastis who writes the comic strip Pearls Before Swine. I’m convinced I’m mostly Pig and Mark is generally Rat and we have several of the strips taped up on the refrigerator and on my office wall to remind of us of how funny life is just in case we forget.
The books change often and regularly. I love history, historical fiction and botany. I just discovered Ursula LaGuin after pulling it off the New Books shelf during a Welcome Desk shift and absolutely loved her! She’s famous in my home state of Oregon and I never gave her a chance until three months ago. Now I’m pouring through whatever she’s written. The best part of books is discovering something new ALL OF THE TIME. I once turned up my nose at Science Fiction but no more. I love being this age, in this part of my life, where it’s possible to give everything a chance.