Media Release

Halifax Public Libraries project wins Ontario Library Association’s President’s award
OLA awards the Working Together project wins the President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement

January 31, 2009- The Working Together project of Halifax Public Libraries has won the prestigious Ontario Library Association’s Presidents’ Award for Exceptional Achievement. The award is given to an action or project that has enhanced or furthered librarianship in a major or unique way. Since 1990, it has been awarded 9 times.

The goal of the Working Together: Library-Community Connections project was to connect and work with socially excluded working-age community members, such those living in poverty, the homeless and transient, visible minorities, recent immigrants and those with lower literacy. It was a four-year project operating in four urban public library systems: Halifax, Toronto, Regina and Vancouver.

In Halifax, the Working Together project engaged residents of an isolated public housing development. Project and branch staff at the Captain William Spry Library went door-to-door to connect with residents and engage them in discussions about library services. Staff worked with residents to help them get a library card. Many residents were unfamiliar with the library’s collection and didn’t realize the library offered free computer and literacy classes.

“The Working Together project gave Halifax Public Libraries the opportunity to engage non-traditional library users. By talking with them, we heard their stories and learned their needs. Working together with community members, the library provided services in their community and in the library,” said Tracey Jones, Literacy, ESL and Diversity Services manager of Halifax Public Libraries, who will go to Toronto to accept the award on the library’s behalf January 31.

Staff learned many of these community members weren’t able to make full use of the library due to a number of barriers such as transportation and library fines. As a result of the library’s outreach and relationship building, residents are now more likely to approach staff with their needs. The library responds by creating programs and services to meet the needs of those community members. One example is the book drop housed in the community so residents with limited mobility and transportation options can return library books closer to home.

“The library is an inclusive environment for everyone. The Working Together project is an example of how we achieve that every day at Halifax Public Libraries,” said Jones.

For interviews:
Tracey Jones
Literacy, ESL and Diversity Services Manager
Halifax Public Libraries
(902) 490-5802

Media inquiries:
Marlo MacKay
Communications Officer
Halifax Public Libraries
(902) 490-5852