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The Magical Spot to Be: EHS’s Library

Since its completion in 2001, the great glass windows and the spacious interior of Essex High School’s library is an often populated space.

Over the years, the library has been home to a number of events: networking sessions for students who are enrolled in internship classes, speaker series for members of the Global Leadership Program, lively coffee houses where students showcase their artistic talent, and so much more.

The space is being well-utilized, but do students know of its full potential?

“I don’t know of another library that has an AV studio in it and also has the Makerspace in a separate room,” EHS Library Media Specialist, Elizabeth von Nagy said. “I would often describe this library as the unicorn of libraries.”

Out of the 156 days of school that led up to this interview, 132 were days including the use of the Makerspace by students. That totals an almost 85% usage rate.

Nicole Stevens, EHS Library Technical Assistant, agreed with von Nagy’s statements of the library’s unparalleled nature. Stevens, like von Nagy, aims for the students to be able to explore their curiosities through the librarians as well as the specialized spaces.

“We have the staff to support our students’ needs with research and inquiry,” Stevens said. “We also have staff that want to be here and can help in a different way than teachers may be able to.”

Among the interactions she’s had with students, Stevens highlighted aiding in writing an email to a teacher about grades, talking about a new pet, and ranting about being benched at a sports game in the list of ways students can connect with their librarians.

Both librarians went on to mention a baseball player who asks to store his baseball bag in the library workroom until it’s time for practice.

“He always asks so kindly,” von Nagy said. “It really does make our mornings, it’s a great way to start the day.”

This desired and appreciated level of respect, however, is not always consistent in the library. Disruptive behavior has been on the rise this year.

“This year compared to other years,” von Nagy said, “it has felt a little more intense, a little more saturated in dealing with these behaviors.”

When recollecting their respective high school libraries, silence was the utmost expectation for both von Nagy and Stevens. The level of disruption present when students are trying to study at EHS would have been far from tolerated in their past environments.

But, that’s not to say the work towards the end goal of a warm and welcoming atmosphere is invisible. In reality, it fluctuates.

Nikki Stevens and students

“I feel like I’ve seen it all,” Stevens said. “We’ve even had years where everything has been lovely.”

This year, in specific, the librarians do attribute a portion of the noise to the incoming 9th graders.

“The learning curve was a little steeper this year,” von Nagy said. “It’s a new environment for them and they may not be clear on our expectations.”

In resolvement, both the librarians went on to agree that any problem of disrespect in the library presents a chance to learn. Also, they mentioned their optimism for the future of the library.

“We recently discussed our five year plan,” von Nagy said, “and in it we all agreed that we hope for students to view the library as one big opportunity. It was designed to be a collaborative space and we are glad when we see it used in that way.”

How the library does end up being utilized and the level of respect present may depend on the year.

“You will see every year that there’s a theme in the library,” Stevens said. “That theme ends up affecting a lot of people.”

With over 200,000 people having walked through the library’s entrance this year – and about 1,400 visiting the space daily – it is numerically clear that a lot of individuals are affected by the library.

The Essex High School librarians want to impart the same message onto everyone who raises the library’s door counter, and to everyone at EHS in general.

“You don’t know whose day you are impacting, so be kind…and read…of course,” Stevens said.

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Lily Larsen
Lily Larsen, Editor and Staff Writer
Lily Larsen is a 12th grader and staff writer (and editor?) for The Hive. She is largely involved in Student Government and Environmental Club. She enjoys reading, hiking, snowboarding, and crossword puzzles in her free time. You can contact her at [email protected].
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