Beyond the Stacks: QEII shines as a cultural and community hub
Picture a library – hushed, still, studious minds exploring and absorbing all the information their post-secondary education has bestowed upon them. Now imagine the captivating sounds of spoken word, poetry, a dozen giggling preschoolers and dazzling dancers performing the ABC’s? This past spring, the most recent installment of the QEII Library’s innovative Check it Out! series brought the library to life by bringing together an interdisciplinary mash-up of spoken word, dance, poetry, and storytelling all in the pursuit of inventive teaching and learning strategies and community collaboration.
Check it Out! Celebrating Culture at the QEII began as a pilot project backed by a core group of librarians and library administrators who wanted to shake up the preconceived notion of what an academic library is in 2014, what it does, and also remind people about its relevant and timeless resources.
“Check it Out! was conceived as a way to highlight our unique materials and expertise,” said Jeannie Bail, an information services librarian in the QEII library and member of the Check it Out! organizing team. “Keeping in mind Memorial's Engagement Framework, the element of performance is important, as we want to expose our users to the notion that libraries aren't just repositories for books, they also function as cultural and community hubs in society.”
With a little help from Memorial’s Quick Start Fund for Public Engagement, the most recent installment of the Check it Out! Series – “Poetry and Performance: The ABC’s of Learning” – included the Idealicious dancers, a group of attentive preschoolers from Memorial’s Childcare Centre, a poet, an education librarian, a professor of Education, and students training to become teachers. In total there were over 60 people in attendance for the dynamic performance hour.
“Thanks to the Quick Start Fund we were able to publicize our event to the wider community, as well as pay honorariums to the local dance artists who contributed their time and vision to the event,” said Colleen Quigley, librarian responsible for the Performing Arts Collection at the QEII’s Archives and Special Collections. “For most people the library is a place for study, dialogue and contemplation. It is also where unexpected intersections happen and we wanted to highlight that particular magic.”
“Working with academic and community partners was a primary goal of this program" said Louise McGillis, associate university librarian, Grenfell, and lead on library public engagement initiatives within Memorial libraries. “Usually libraries are where researchers begin their work. We wanted to host a celebration in the library, which is an ideal location to showcase the products of those research efforts. As well, by including different partners, we were able to highlight in a very tangible and exciting way, the different perspectives and expertise each partner brings to the process.”
“Check it Out! is about exploring interdisciplinary expertise, drawing on each other’s strengths and making lasting relationships that connect our collections, archival materials and resources with the communities it is about and for which it exists to serve. We hope the result will be new and inspired
ways of thinking about culture, history, art, research and learning,” said Ms. Quigley