Halifax Central Library upgrades creative space

The Lou Duggan Creative Studio is now officially open at the central branch

Although it takes up a small corner in the Halifax Central Library, the Lou Duggan Creative Studio is a place where your imagination can surely get lost.

The revamped space now has top-of-the-line crafting tools, kitchen infrastructure and updated furniture. It’s located on the library’s second floor overlooking Spring Garden Road and was officially opened to the public on Saturday.

“We had always had a room in this corner and it was called the Creative Lab, but we hadn’t really brought it to life,” explained Åsa Kachan, chief librarian and CEO for Halifax Public Libraries.

Duggan served as president for the Atlantic Provinces Library Association, among other roles. Before he died of cancer two-and-a-half years ago, he left a significant financial gift to upgrade the space. Saturday would have been his 53rd birthday.

The grand opening allowed people to get hands-on with a number of different activities: making a 3D-printed keychain, growing sprouts in a jar, and designing stickers and bookmarks. Kachan said the space is meant to capture what’s at the heart of Duggan’s legacy — human connection and learning something new.

“When you do learning in person it becomes very social, it reduces loneliness, people connect to each other and they tell stories,” said Kachan.

3D printing is one of the activities people can try out at the Lou Duggan Creative Studio
3D printing is one of the activities people can try out in the Lou Duggan Creative Studio.   Alexandra Skultety

Activities for the space could also include everything from quilting, to making sauerkraut, to traditional African Nova Scotian basket weaving.

In the fall, the library tested out a newcomer cooking program. Kachan said many people come to the library for help learning English, but the cooking program allowed them to become the teachers.

“One day you might peek your head in and there would be amazing dumplings being made,” said Kachan. “Another day it might be sushi.”

The programming in the space will continue to evolve, and library staff asked those at the grand opening for suggestions about what they’d like to learn there. Kachan expects it to become one of the most active parts of the library, adding she hopes it’s a place to “bump into people.”

The creation of two internship positions for the studio is another part of Duggan’s legacy reflected in the space.

Cohen Poirier, a recent Dalhousie engineering grad, is one of them. He was helping people make 3D keychains on Saturday.

“I found that engineering, while I love it and I have a passion for it, I’m more interested in teaching other people about it,” Poirier said in an interview. “Through my degree I was able to volunteer a lot with after school kids programs and when this position popped up, I thought this is the perfect fit for me and what I want to do.”

Recent engineering grad, Cohen Poirier, is one of two interns working in the Lou Duggan Creative Studio
Recent engineering grad Cohen Poirier is one of two interns working in the Lou Duggan Creative Studio.   Alexandra Skultety

Meredith Wain was at the event with her three young daughters, who were making bookmarks.

She only had good things to say about her experience and said she regularly brings her family to the library.

“I think it’s amazing, it’s accessible, it doesn’t cost anything to come, it’s bright and sunny in the winter time,” said Wain. “It’s just a really welcoming and inclusive space.”

The schedule of events for the Lou Duggan Creative Studio kicks off on Feb. 1 with an embroidery workshop.

Alexandra Skultety

Alexandra Skultety

Alex has worked in the radio industry for over 10 years at stations throughout BC and central Alberta. She has a Bachelor's Degree in political science and recently moved to Halifax to take the one-year journalism program at the University of King's College.

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