By: Kimberly Gray
In every corner of GS, books filled with invaluable information, epic tales and beautiful worlds are going untouched due to two factors: Covid-19 and budget cuts.
Covid-19 has changed almost every part of life for most people, including how and where students learn, and libraries are no exception to facing these changes. A constant fixture at both the middle and high school are the libraries. The middle school has a boundless Maker Space and many books that are not being used. At the high school, the once vibrant atmosphere of the library has gone dormant. But, even in this day and age, libraries are important places for reading and learning.
“Covid-19 is the biggest change to the library this year because you [students] are all in your own little worlds with these computers in front of you now,” high school librarian Mrs. Carrie Vottero said. “There is just no traffic like there has been in the past and that has changed the entire lifeblood of the library. There are no children here.”
Knowing how to use a library is an important skill. Students, young ones especially, need to learn how and where they can find information and stories. And this goes beyond the Dewey Decimal System.
“Having a vibrant, well-funded school library is really important to very young children because it sets them up as lifetime users and lovers of libraries in general,” Mrs. Vottero said. “And the wanting of information gathering. I think of you kids as information seekers; I use that term in here a lot because that is what a library is, a place where you can come to gather information.”
Having a place to not only get information, but books for leisure purposes is important for students. Plus, the positive space it provides helps students in a different way.
“Whether it’s a book you’re reading for fun and pleasure or whether you’re doing research for a project, or whether you’re here with another student or a teacher collaborating on an assignment,” Vottero said. “Maybe it’s just a time out space for to find a moment of calm and quiet. You have to teach a child to love a library. So, losing that for our young children is a tragedy.”
While it is important for elementary-aged students to have access to libraries, it holds importance to older students as well. From the resources it provides to the programs it sponsors, the library has a lot to offer.
“The library helped me early on; I was able to read a lot and get really good at writing and spelling,” junior Trent Lenhart said. “Also, it has always served as a relaxing place for me.”
These programs and resources make a positive impact on students’ lives. Whether that is being a part of a team or just having somewhere to go, all students can benefit from having consistent access to libraries.
“I have done WIRC and have enjoyed it every year I’ve done it,” Lenhart said. “While also reading plenty of books from the library…”
Lenhart is not the only student to have positive experiences with the library. Many other students have found a safe haven among the stacks.
“In middle school, I liked to go hang out in the library during enrichment and help out,” junior Ryann Shirey said. “I would check books in and out, put them back on the shelves, and help to organize the library. In high school, I have been in the library every day that I’m physically in school. I can’t do a ton to help but I did help pull out a lot of this year’s WIRC books.”
Students are the key to the library. It is there for students to use and love. But to use a library properly, students have to go in person.
“I would like to see kids coming in more than they come right now,” Vottero said. “I think it’s difficult to do that because they don’t encourage you to leave your classrooms right now and for good reason. I’m not going against that… I think that individually you can ask for a pass to come down during your free time. I certainly hope that students remember that this room is here, but I understand why you’re not here. Our routine in the building is not the same.”