Public library offers lectures with a different dynamic

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Charles Beaupré speaks to both students and public attendees at the lecture on Asian film Wednesday (Photo: Alison Murray)

Susan Kerslake has been coming to the basement of the Spring Garden Road Memorial Public Library for 30 years.

It is here she attends the weekly lunchtime lecture program, Lunch & Learn.

This year the program is offering new and different courses ranging from the development of Science Fiction to New Wave on Tuesdays, Asian Film on Wednesdays and the British novel on Thursdays. All taught by lecturers at Saint Mary's University.

She describes the experience as being "a very different dynamic than the classroom."

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After an hour of open lecturing Beaupré speaks with an attendee before proceeding with the lecture for his students (Photo: Alison Murray)

"The thing that happens in the class that I like so much is that you can just come. I don't have time to do all the reading and everything but you can just come and have a wonderful lecture," said Kerslake.

The program is a collaborative effort between Halifax Public Libraries and SMU.

For public attendees readings are optional. But the lectures also act as a full credit course for registered SMU students.

Kerslake explains students come with the expectation of it just being another lecture, but they find more.

"This is a lifelong love of learning. Just like the library says, you are here because you want to be here and they see that these people are not shy, people ask questions, and make comments about things," she said.

Recently Kerslake attended the new lecture on Asian cinema, taught by Charles Beaupré, an Asian studies professor at SMU.

Beaupré first started with the program around twelve years ago. A lecture he previously led was about popular Asian culture.

"I enjoyed the first experience very much," he said. "Film in general, but even more specifically Asian film is something that people can walk away with and enjoy a lot more."

Beaupré also says the program offers professors a "motivating factor" because the audience is at the library "out of their own pure interest."

"So I find that a wonderful, wonderful combination," he said.

"We have people who have been coming for decades and they look forward to every class," said Cheryl Black, facilitator of adult programming for the public libraries. "It doesn't matter what the topic is, it's that whole lifelong learning."

Lunch & Learn has been running since 1977.

As for the lectures taking place in the library, Black says "It's wonderful to expose people to things they might not otherwise have an opportunity to [experience] in a way that is free of charge. That's one of the reasons it makes perfect sense to take place at a public library."

The topics are partly chosen based on attendees evaluations of previous lectures.

Black says the library sends the evaluations to SMU where the continuing director of outreach education, as well as department chairs, look at the availability of professors to lecture.

Black notes an "important part of this whole process is finding a professor, like Charles, who has that ability to not just connect with the students but also the members of the public."

Classes run from noon until 2:30 p.m., with the first hour being open to the public.

 

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