Growing Our Collection Beyond Books


Libraries continue to evolve to respond to community needs. This includes loaning unexpected items like radon detectors, musical instruments, Light Therapy Lamps, Chrome Books & iPads, and sporting equipment. There is so much to consider when introducing items beyond books, and behind-the-scenes specialized staff help grow and distribute Halifax Public Libraries’ collections.

Introducing CO2 Monitors

In 2022, Halifax Public Libraries launched a new CO2 Monitor Collection when community members expressed interest in testing air quality. CO2 Monitors are simple, handheld tools that read carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in your spaces. A reading can indicate if action is required to ensure a room is adequately ventilated and has access to clean, fresh air.


Knowing the levels of CO2 present in your home or workspace can help lower the risk of airborne infection, and alert you to symptoms caused by poor ventilation—such as tiredness and headaches. The CO2 Collection was made possible by funding and resource support from Community Access to Ventilation (CAVI) Canadian CO2 Monitor Expansion Program that supports libraries across the country.

Bringing it all together

There are many people behind the scenes that help you get your Library loans. A new Collection, like CO2 Monitors is a great way to see every role in action.

Purchasing or acquisition

Halifax Public Libraries’ Collections Department reviews items that are available for purchase. This team considers things like: simplicity, longevity, availability, price, and recommendations from community members and other library systems. Once a decision has been made, staff will often purchase the items in bulk.

Processing and cataloguing

Once items arrive at our Collections Department, certain details are entered into the database. Details such as search name, dimensions, manufacturer, product description, and call number help community members and staff easily find and borrow these items. No detail is left out when it comes to data entry, and there is specific data all libraries consistently use to ensure our database is accessible.

Once the product is included in the searchable database, items are individually packaged with safety information, user manual, and batteries. A unique barcode is attached to every item at Halifax Public Libraries so we know where it is at any time.

Delivery and shelving

Did you know? Halifax Public Libraries’ Delivery Team manually moves items across the municipality. Any given day, they are transporting hundreds of books, DVDs, CDs, musical instruments, CO2 Monitors, Radon Detectors, musical instruments and learning resources to Halifax Public Libraries’ 14 branches, two community offices, and multiple Lending Kiosks. Not only is the Delivery Team vital to ensuring that the your books and materials make their way to you, they also help make everyone’s activity dreams come true by moving all of our programming materials—such as robots, cooking equipment, and tech gear— to our various branches. Their days start early before the sunrise, and Library vans travel from Hubbards, downtown Halifax, Dartmouth, and all the way East to Sheet Harbour!

When a CO2 Monitor arrives at a Library branch, it’s placed on a shelf ready for the community. Next time you pick up your holds or find an item for borrowing, thank the entire team that makes borrowing items possible at Halifax Public Libraries.

Explore More

This story was originally created as part of Halifax Public Libraries' 2022-23 Annual Report. Read the full report here.

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Visit our Beyond Books collection