Learning to Love a Twenty First Century Library

Helping hands—New librarians, Mrs. White and Mrs. Russo, help students in the library.

Photo by Jenny Ye

By Shin Park

As students returned to South on the sunny morning of September 5, they observed a few changes: a new freshmen class, many new staff members, a handful of renovated classrooms, and empty places in the front of the library where eleven computers used to sit.
While six computers still remain, the rest were eliminated to create more useable space in the library. Because all students have iPads, some people believe that the demand for desktop computers will continue to decrease. For this year, the librarians hope to turn the space into an extension for more makerspace activities.
Kallista Zhuang, a junior who utilizes the library as a quiet place to catch up on classwork, finds it very annoying to have to fight her way to a spot on the desktop computers to print out an assignment in the morning. In fact, Kallista thinks that the library has changed for the worse.
“Although the library feels more liberating due to the loosened hold on rules, I think that it is louder and more distracting now,” she said. “The library feels more like a place students can come in with their friends when they are bored than a place for students to study.”Eliminating some computers was not the only change made to the library. For one, students no longer need to sign in upon entering. According to Mrs. Jennifer Scheinberg, technology staff developer, the sign-in system was too cumbersome for students and hindered the library’s function of being an area for students to get work done.
Removing computers is just the beginning of the library’s transformation. Extensive renovations are planned for the summer of 2019. From compartmentalized study spaces to a new audio/video lab, the library will be divided into separate sections to make use of all floor space as efficiently and diversely as possible.
According to Mrs. Scheinberg, these changes are aimed towards creating a welcoming common space that encourages exploration, creation, collaboration and hands-on learning.Plans to build a library common area are also underway. This will be a place where students can eat and chat with their friends before returning to work. While eating in the study area will still be prohibited, the common area will give students a place where they can re-energize during their free periods.
“We are looking to build a more ‘modern library,’” Mrs. Scheinberg said. “We want this to be a place for students to come and settle down—just like a library is supposed to be.”
The school also welcomes two new librarians: Mrs. Russo and Mrs. White. They firmly believe that, in the twenty-first century, the library is a wonderful place for students to study and learn.
“A good librarian will help anyone they can any way they can,” Mrs. White said. “If you need help with anything—homework, classes, books—consider me one more resource in your toolbox.”
Despite all these changes, fear not: the makerspace tables, mindfulness corner, aquarium, and bookshelves will be part of the renovated space. After all, what would South’s library be without them?