The year of the library by Corinne MacDonald
The year is 1974, the year of Watergate, the Vietnam War protests and Margaret Laurence’s, The Diviners. It is the year New Brunswick became officially bilingual and hired its first female RCMP officer.
The year is 1974 and I am standing at the entrance of the Ward Chipman Library excited and curious. Reels of microform and its readers unfashionably line the far left interior wall. Next to them the austere card catalogue presents itself as a formidable opponent to any first time user trying to understand cross reference patterns. Clearly absent are computers, work stations, lounge chairs, drinks and chatter. There are no OPACs, electronic resources, federated databases or laptops.
The library is a relatively new building, just five years old. It was named in honour of loyalist Ward Chipman, a New Brunswick lawyer, judge and influential political figure of the 19th century. The year is 1974; I understand, like our founding father, the importance of learning and that this is a place where I can discover and grow. The staff is friendly and helpful demonstrating they are here to assist with information and research needs.
Fast forward. The year is 2011 and I am sitting in a room with a view on a historic occasion. The view is the beautiful Kennebecasis River and the event is the closing of the Ward Chipman Library. I am reminded that despite the ebb and flow that accompanies the change of seasons, there are constants. The library has and will continue to play a central role in providing open and free access to information and ideas.
The Hans W. Klohn Commons will come to mean for future generations what the Ward Chipman Library has meant to me – learning is to be experienced and shared. Making student learning easier has always been and will continue to be one of the library’s main goals. Perhaps Marshall McLuhan was right when he said, “We look at the present through a rear view mirror” and, despite all appearances, we really are “marching backwards into the future.”