Sporting one of the finest views in Verbier…high above Le Chable and across the valley towards Grand St. Bernard and beyond into Italy…this lovely library serves a community of Swiss locals and property owners from around the world. Thousands of titles line the shelves, mostly in French with a large selection of English language books.
The bibliotheque also offers free Internet and WiFi access just like the big city libraries. And, author talks, book clubs and other events keep it a busy place. For just the few hours each day that it is open. Lining the front porch, along the outside wall, on the benches in the entry and found on shelves of fiction inside is a huge selection of free, yes free, books to be taken by anyone, member or not.
It seems the library gets plenty of free books from both its patrons and guests who travel, then pick up something else to read, leaving other books behind. The library, carefully selects other, and new, books to purchase for its lending collection. And, it’s a fine, current and thoughtful selection of print and video for the community.
This labor of love is the “child” of Doug Sager, a former CBS journalist, former travel writer for the Times of London and a 30 year resident of Verbier. He is a volunteer. And, everyone who works at this little institution is a volunteer. Perhaps that makes for a good model, assuring both the interest and dedication to the institution that is harder to obtain in many urban libraries.
We went in to introduce ourselves to Doug one afternoon a few weeks ago. We ended up talking to him for two hours, meeting some of the other volunteer staff, meeting and talking with a Polish author, Stan, who wrote of escaping the Nazis as a child and now has a son moving to Boulder who he was about to visit, and meeting Bob, another long time Verbier resident originally from Southern California and currently on a quest to ski hundreds of consecutive days…and returning checked-out videos to the library.
And, there was Doug. He claims that when he was with CBS he was a “real” journalist. But, he left that in 1970, took a year off, then found himself learning to ski in Verbier. He turned his writing skills into ski travel columns for the Times and travelled the world some more. That was at the same time that Diane and I were both deeply immersed in the ski industry (she as a photographer of ski feature articles, resorts and worldwide competition, and, I as a frequent writer and marketer for ski products) so the conversation quickly revealed that we knew all the same people. And had many common close friends!
We enjoyed meeting Doug Sager. He’s an avid skier, knows Colorado well, has some strong opinions about all manner of things, loves Hemingway…and runs a fine library…with the best view in Verbier. Check it all out! And, don’t forget your free book.