Friday, September 21, 2012

The imagination comes to life with books

This Sunday, September 23, the Halifax Waterfront will transform into a 'literary theme park' at The Word on the Street festival. Today I am delighted to welcome the Mount's University Librarian, Tanja Harrison, as she shares her own personal story about how books have impacted her life - and certainly her career. The Mount will have a presence at the festival, so I encourage you to come out and visit us.

Until next time,


The imagination comes to life with books

Tanja Harrison

I’ve always loved September. The warm summer sun makes way for the crisp, cool days of autumn and the excitement of a new school year ripples across campus. I arrived at the Mount as University Librarian on the first day of June, and while the summer is a great time to start a new job and settle in, there is nothing like the energy of a university at the beginning of the fall term. I am so pleased to be spending my first one at the Mount.  

When I applied to the Mount, the ‘our stories’ campaign had just been launched. I believe in the importance of sharing stories and their ability to connect members of a community. It made me think about my own story and the route that brought me here. I realized that 30 years ago, I watched my mother walk across the stage to get her BA and BEd from the Mount. As a military wife, it took her years to complete her degrees, but throughout the postings and the tours, she made it through. The Mount supported her and I’ve always remembered that. Mom’s class of ’86 was the last year that E. Margaret Fulton was President. Now working with the Mount Library staff in the EMF Centre, everything seems familiar, and it fits. 

When I was young, my brother and I would spend hours in the old Dartmouth Public Library`s children’s section, sitting on the floor surrounded by books. I remember the wonderful feeling the first time the librarian said, ”You can take those home with you, if you like”.

Long, hot summers were spent in my father’s blueberry fields in Cumberland County. We didn’t have television. When the lights went down, my flashlight and imagination came alive with books. A mystery fan, I diligently worked my way through a collection of Nancy Drews or Agatha Christies. During my father`s tour to Syria in the early ‘80s, we spent a summer in Damascus. My carry-on knapsack was stuffed with as many books as it could fit, and many a Judy Blume book travelled with me on our adventures. 

Through the rest of my school years, the reading continued. One summer, I was lucky to land a job at the new Alderney Gate Public Library. Browsing the reference section one day, I stumbled across the university calendars and the Library and Information Studies program at Dalhousie. My immediate thought was, “A graduate degree to study and work in libraries? Where do I sign up!”

My daughter Gracie, age six, shown
with a favourite nighttime read.

Libraries and reading had a profound influence on my childhood, and I feel privileged to have found a career working in the area of education and literacy. I now live with my own family just minutes away from where the old Dartmouth Public Library once stood. My daughter has had books in her hands from her very beginning. 

In our house, there is nothing that turns the television off faster than the promise of a tale by Sheree Fitch, Marie-Lousie Gay or any number of classics in our growing collection. I am filled with pride as I now watch my daughter learn to read on her own, a truly memorable experience. 

Education and literacy have the power to change lives and communities. One of my favourite local literacy events of the season is happening this weekend. On September 23, the Halifax waterfront will come alive with readings, workshops, and booksellers for the annual literacy extravaganza, the Word on the Street. The festival is a treat for the whole family, and is dedicated to improving reading skills and celebrating literacy. This year, the Mount will also be taking part, and will be joined by the poetic talents of our own Lorri Neilsen Glenn.  

Upcoming Events
  • For a special treat this year, join the countdown to the unveiling of the first One Book One Province project, where communities around Nova Scotia will be challenged to read the same book and share the same story. Attend the official Libraries Nova Scotia launch on September 21 or check the website for more details. 
  • The Mount Library hosts readings throughout the year, and next we will welcome Jeanie Cockell and Joan McArthur-Blair on October 3 from 5:00 - 7:30p.m. to launch their book Appreciative Inquiry in Higher Education: A Transformative Force
  • If you love to read, stop by the Mount Library for our annual book sale during the week of October 28. All books will be $1.00. 
  • Celebrating Writing Week will be happening at the Mount during the week of November 12-16, and we will once again be partnering with the Writer' Federation of Nova Scotia
For updates, visit our site, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Join the fun, read, and share your stories!

Tanja Harrison
University Librarian

No comments: