As an elementary school student, our class took regular trips to the Halifax Memorial Library. The staff knew us each by name. I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books and Nancy Drew. As a pre-teen, I borrowed scratched vinyl records: Duran Duran, Bob Dylan- and strangely, an LP of ambient sound effects, designed for the broadcast industry. In junior high school, I spent an entire summer on the library steps, in the haze of Bud the Spud. Once, in high school, after some peer encouragement, I visited the reference section of the library. There was a book there that no one could borrow, but anyone could look at: Madonna’s Sex! I think it’s fair to say that I grew up at the old Halifax Memorial Library!
I brought my young children to the opening of the new Halifax Central Public Library on the corner of Spring Garden and Queen Street in December 2014. What we found was not just library, but an amazing new space for future generations of children to learn, develop, grow -and discover, just like I did. Here are some photos from an unforgettable morning in Halifax history.
Some of the crowd, just before the countdown. The library gave out scissors to that everyone could help cut the ribbon. We were running late, so we brought our own!
Two favourite politicians you’re likely to bump into at any community event in Halifax: Member of Parliament, Megan Leslie, and Downtown Councillor (Voted Best Councillor 2014 by The Coast Weekly) Waye Mason.
The already familiar central staircases. Note the second handrail for children!
Contrary to my fears, the new library does not feel anything like an airport or an Apple store! There are plenty of small, quiet warm, spaces for children, set in the corners of the larger spaces, which yesterday, were streaming bright warm light. Most importantly, there is warmth in the familiar faces of staff, like these happy librarians on the second floor. Community here feels strong. Yesterday, in the children’s section, we ran into about 20 people we knew. The new library is already a meeting place for families.
Thousands of new books, but lots of technology too.
There is a well-equipped LEGO table tucked away in the corner of the big kids’ section. And in the toddler section (near the Lite Brite), lots of DUPLO, as well as a puppet theatre, toy kitchen and large buckets full of cars and trucks. Oh…and there are plenty of books too!
The new streetscape at Spring Garden and Queen Street gives a vibrant new flavour to this corner of downtown Halifax. I can only imagine how many times in the future we will say (just like the old days!): “Meet me in front of the library!”
New, but somehow the library feels like it has always been here.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the new Halifax library is that it offers views of Halifax no one has ever seen before.
Goodbye old friend!