A “smarter” future of Halifax Libraries is becoming real

Today's libraries are not only on the street, they're also on your screen.

Halifax Central Library, which opened in Dec. 2014, has public computers in each floor.
Halifax Central Library, which opened in Dec. 2014, has public computers on each floor.   Lisa Takagi

According to the latest Budget and Business plan of Halifax Libraries, an increasing number of people are using computers and digital content at the 14 branches.

Projections from the Halifax Library’s plan shows that number of computers booked for the public use at the libraries would reach more than 1.5 million this year, which is almost double from the previous year.

In the plan, Halifax Libraries says spaces are now for “access to technology (computer use, wireless access and gaming), organized meetings, socializing, connecting with people and the world” in addition to the traditional reading and studying. In its budget plan, Halifax Libraries says that it willl have “an upgrade to wireless Internet access across all branches” and “enhancements to the Library’s web-based tools and content” this year.

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“The community hub”

Today, the libraries in Halifax are becoming free and popular accessing points to the digital devices and internet in the community.

Donna Bourne-Tyson, the university librarian at Dalhousie University, says she became interested in the job of librarians in mid-1980s when she heard people talking about the "oncoming information explosion" in the digital world. "It's very true today," she says.
Donna Bourne-Tyson, the university librarian at Dalhousie University, says she became interested in the job of librarians in mid-1980s when she heard people talking about the “oncoming information explosion” in the digital world. “It’s very true today,” she says.   Lisa Takagi

“What people may think about the sort of traditional libraries with books are now much broader and much more innovative”, says Dr. Sandra Toze, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University’s School of Information Management. She says that the libraries are now taking a role of “the community hub” by providing access to people.

Toze also says that the trend is driven both by close relationship with the community to connect people’s needs and digitalization of the entire society.

“(For example,) because so much of the government is now digital”, says Dr. Toze, “libraries are increasingly taking on a role there as well, of being sort of go-between-the-service-point for people for government services.

The number of digital/print contents
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Contents are going more digital

In fact, more digital content is becoming available at the libraries. Their websites provide access to eBooks and digital magazines, language course, database access at any time of the day.

According to The Performance Indicators released after 2014-2015 fiscal year, the total number of media available at the libraries has slightly declined in recent five years, while nearly 400,000 digital media have been added to the collection.  The number of digital media being checked out from the libraries has been constantly growing.

Things changed and unchanged

While both the content and the transactions going more digital, Donna Bourne-Tyson, the university librarian at Dalhousie University says that the change has been the part of a big wave of digitalization started decades ago.

“Now, we think about website as a branch as well,” says Bourne-Tyson. In addition to the availability from anywhere, she says that another benefit of having the digital content is that more than one person can access the material at the same time.