Outdoor Library

New outdoor lounge space proposed for Keshen Goodman library

Ideas include butterfly garden, performance space and outdoor cafe

Sue Sirrs (left), Helen Thexton (centre) and Terry Gallagher present a proposed diagram of the outdoor library.   Matt MacNeil

New greenery and planters, patio furniture and an outdoor children’s play area could be on the way for the Keshen Goodman Library in Clayton Park.

Halifax Public Libraries hosted a public consultation at the library on Monday to gather feedback on the proposal, which also includes increased wi-fi coverage, a butterfly garden and a performance stage for the exterior space.

Helen Thexton, manager of Keshen Goodman, is excited about the idea and its potential.

“We’re pretty stretched to capacity here; it gets really busy,” she said. “There’s days when people can’t find a seat, so this is a really good way to expand the ability for people to use our library.”

Janet Newton is a citizen appointee of the Halifax Regional Library Board. She believes the new outdoor library is a great way to use unused space.

“Since I’ve come here, I’ve thought the front of it was such a wasted space, that kind of concrete jungle out there. My grandson comes here to play, so to have a grassed in fenced-off section, that would be great,” she said.

For many people, this was their first opportunity to look at diagrams of the outdoor space. Landscape architects and library staff were on hand to answer questions and take suggestions.

Sue Sirrs is one of those landscape architects. She owns Outside! Planning and Design Studio, the company tasked with designing the new space. She also worked on the new outdoor space at the North Dartmouth Public Library, and said she took away an important lesson from that project.

“I learned that librarians rock,” she said, excitedly. “They are drivers to create that outdoor space for programming, for initiatives that help the community … it’s just fantastic the ideas they’re willing to explore, the ideas they’re willing to try out.”

The outdoor space at Dartmouth North Public Library is expected to open this spring. That project includes a new deck and playground, green space and areas for books to be brought outside on rolling shelves.

Sirrs is also looking forward to connecting library-goers at Keshen Goodman to the outdoors.

“I’ve been here at lunch time, when the kids from the local school literally just flow onto the site. They’re on every chair, in every little nook and cranny; they’re in the outside spaces already on a nice day,” she said. “What we’d really like to do is enhance those spaces.”

Residents were able to ask questions and give suggestions for the proposed outdoor space on Monday.   Matt MacNeil

Terry Gallagher, director of finance and facilities for HPL and manager of the project, wants to have as much community feedback as possible.

“We have a general idea of improving some of the exterior spaces, but we’d like to see how the community reacts to what we’re presenting,” he said.

Sandra Millar lives in the area and uses the library often, at least once every two weeks. She said while she likely wouldn’t use the outdoor space since she can enjoy a good book at home, she understands wanting the update.

“I don’t think that space has been extensively used since the library has been open,” she said. “It looks like they’re headed in the right direction.”

Expansion of the services is part of HRM’s proposed capital budget. Pending approval by regional council, construction at the Keshen Goodman could begin this spring.

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