Library's Response to Memorial Question
Honouring the Memorial Spirit of the Old Library
On Thursday, April 10, the Chronicle Herald’s Opinions Section carried a Reader's Corner submission by Blair Beed, an historian and author. It is titled "How soon we forget our debt" and it questions why the name of the new Library does not have the word 'memorial' in it.
This is the Library's response.
Library’s Letter to the Editor
12 April 2014
A recent Letter to the Editor by Blair Beed (April 10) raised an important civic issue and reminded us never to forget the debt we owe to those who came before us. Looking at the new Central Library it is quite natural to wonder about how we are honouring the Memorial spirit of the old library.
The exterior design of the new Halifax Central Library may be strikingly 21st century in design, but the building also incorporates commemorative aspects, developed in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Legion and other heritage groups. The sacrifice of those who served and died for Canada in wartime is also accorded an honoured place inside that magnificent new facility on Spring Garden Road.
The existing two Books of Remembrance that honour casualties from Halifax in World War I and World War II will be supplemented by a third Book of Remembrance recognizing those who died from subsequent conflicts. In addition, the online version of the books will be presented in a more interactive, engaging format.
History buffs like Mr. Beed will also be absolutely delighted with the new Local History section and the prominent place it now occupies in the new building. We have also managed to incorporate war commemoration into that dedicated section. A few elements of the existing wartime display such as the Silver Cross, flags and standards will also be proudly displayed at the Maritime Command Museum.
We can hardly wait to unveil the new, beautiful memorial website that will be launched very soon. A team of library staff have carefully selected pictures, news articles, and official documents to attractively tell the story of how Halifax Memorial Library came to be and the purposeful meaning behind a library as a living memorial.
It might also be noted that the Halifax Public Libraries hosts popular Lest We Forget youth workshops commemorating Nova Scotia and the Great War. It gives children of all ages a chance to connect with the personal stories of soldiers and nursing sisters who served at home and abroad.
It is possible to build for the future while remaining respectful of the past. The Spring Garden library building was, Mr. Beed has noted, funded through the city’s Memorial Fund in 1951. As the new library rises before our very eyes, now might be an opportune time to begin considering how the “memorial” legacy could be incorporated into future redevelopment on the other side of Spring Garden Road.
Honouring those who came before us is very much still in the Halifax Public Libraries plans for the future.
Paul W. Bennett
Chair, Halifax Regional Library Board
Links to History & Vision
- Comprehensive plan for memorial recognition at Halifax Central Library that resulted from consultation with the Canadian Royal Legion
- A brief history of naming Halifax Memorial Library and the Library as a living memorial
- The meaning behind the word ‘central’ in a public library’s name is explained in Halifax Central Library’s vision
Halifax Public Libraries
Phone: (902) 490-5852
Cell: (902) 476-8605