Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia, to speak at a professional learning event for library support specialists in the Halifax Regional School Board. Our topic was the school library as a learning commons.
Schools in the Halifax area can draw great inspiration from the public library’s new central branch. Great libraries understand their mission in helping their constituent communities realize their aspirations. When libraries do this well they also open people’s eyes, minds and spirits to greater potential.
The Halifax Central Library, developed with extensive community consultation and the most innovative thinking in librarianship and architecture, epitomizes this phenomenon. Mid-afternoon on a weekday, the library was very busy, but felt as relaxed and comfortable as my living room. Children, teens, adults, students – all were pursuing their interests individually or collaboratively in this great public space, dedicated to the free exploration of ideas and creativity.
Schools Can Take Inspiration
The Halifax Public Library understands its role in developing the community it serves. Do schools in the area understand the potential of their own libraries for leading new ways of learning?
The free exploration of ideas is a foundational value of libraries – an approach that has huge potential for supporting inquiry, discovery and creativity. Many area schools are making great strides in developing a learning commons approach, and library support specialists are deepening their understanding of the unique value proposition of the library in realizing larger goals for learning. Our workshop focused on how to use the national standards document, Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada to frame program growth.
Many thanks to my host, Halifax Regional School Board library consultant Donna Gillespie, and to Halifax Public Library children’s services librarian Heather Doepner for taking us on a marvellous tour of the central library.
HRSB library support specialists are eager to capture the imagination of the community of educators in the same way that the public library has inspired the greater community. How fortunate Halifax educators are to have such an inspiring example of the possibilities right there in the heart of this great city.