Staff Stories: Cohen Poirier – Tech for Good

Originally shared as part of Halifax Public Libraries' 2020-21 Annual Report

Cohen Poirier began working at Central Library in December, 2019. As a recent Mechanical Engineering graduate, Cohen signed on to help Haligonians learn about and explore technology through the Lou Duggan Creative Studio legacy internship program.

“In the early days [of my role], I loved getting to know our vibrant community by offering in-person Library programs. Helping people learn new hands-on skills in such a collaborative and supportive environment was such a gratifying experience.”

This included weekly after-school programs for kids covering topics such as coding and robotics, and drop-in style programs where community members could find assistance with their personal projects by using technologies like sewing machines, cricut cutters, and 3D printers.

When the Library’s doors closed due to COVID-19, the Creative Studio doors remained open for Cohen’s innovation. Having been inspired by the heroism of medical and frontline workers, and encouraged by his Supervisor, Alison Froese-Stoddard; Cohen took it upon himself to take the 3D printer home and begin creating ear savers—clasps for masks that remove the pressure of bands from around the ears.

“After a lot of testing and tweaking, I found a design that we could print fast and get into the hands of our community members.”

Once he had a satisfactory product, Cohen began delivering ear-savers to frontline healthcare workers at Dartmouth General Hospital and then, providing them to community members when the Library reopened. From March 2020 to April 2021, Cohen created nearly 100 ear-savers, and he’s still going strong.

The Lou Duggan Creative Studio team also shared the fruits (or vegetables, in this case!) of the Studio’s gadgets throughout Library closures by delivering swiss chard, kale, and loads of basil from their hydraulic Tower Garden to Freedom Kitchen every month or so. 

“My time at the Library has shown me that libraries are incredible resources for their communities. They have the power to accelerate careers, foster new friendships, and offer supports for community members when they need it most. All Library staff should be fiercely proud of the amazing work they've done to support their community over the past year.”

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