Nazanin Shoja, Ontario Arts Council Culture Days Animator/Coordinator, recently spoke with the Innisfil Public Library, which hosted a number of Culture Days activities in 2010. Here's an account of their experience and thoughts on the active role that can be played by libraries in promoting local talent.
Celebrating Culture Days 2010
Innisfil Public Library is a multi-branch system within a geographically diverse community located in central Ontario. The Culture Days initiative complements the library’s mandate as a community gathering place providing progressive, user-oriented library service that anticipates the educational, cultural, leisure and other informational needs within the community. Participation in the program achieved several organizational goals including collaboration with local partners to enhance community involvement, promotion of the library in order to encourage the widest possible use of services, and focused attention on the achievements of local artists.
Innisfil Public Library has participated in artist studio tours and regularly displays artwork in its main branch. However, through the Culture Days planning process, staff realized that we had neglected to promote artisans in our communities. As a result, Culture Days became an opportunity to highlight a neglected aspect of local talent. Through previously established partnerships with arts groups, possible participants were identified. We were specifically seeking artisans whose work would engage the public with hands-on activities. For example, at the Cookstown Branch, woodcarving and quilting were highlighted and library customers were fascinated to watch the works unfold before them.
Through Culture Days, the perception of the library’s role within the community is shifting. Libraries are viewed, not only as a source of information, but also as a place “where culture lives”. Library customers have come to view the library as a destination that will continually surprise and delight them with the breadth of arts programming and variety of experiences to be shared. This perception will continue to grow as the library continues to participate in futureCulture Days weekends. As a largely rural population, Innisfil residents can take pride in participating in a cross-Canada celebration of culture. Participation in this event was worthwhile for the Innisfil Public Library and we will most definitely continue in the future. In 2011, the Culture Days theme will be “performers” and we anticipate an even more exciting celebration of community talent.
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