Do Not Enter: New library lunch policy

For many students, lunch was prime time to get some extra homework done, print out papers, or gossip with friends in the library. The library served as a quiet place to sit and enjoy your lunch period away from the large, raucous group in the cafeteria. A new policy, however, is preventing students from entering the library during their lunch shift if a class has signed up for the library.

The new policy is an altered extension of the policy that was put in place last year where students had to have a signed agenda book.  Librarian Halley Zanconato found that classes trying to use library resources were distracted, and she sought to find a solution.

The original proposed solution was to close the library on Tuesdays and Thursdays to give students and teachers a predictable schedule. A final decision was made by the administration to close the library anytime there is a class conducting research or receiving instruction in the library. The new changes were meant to uphold “student supervision, safety, and equity in the classroom,” said Associate Principal Rachel Chavier.

A chalkboard outside the library doors is updated throughout the day to let students know when the library will be open. There is also a schedule in Google Calendar that shows when classes have signed up.

Some teachers found that the flood of students coming from lunch often interrupted instruction making it difficult for students and teachers to concentrate. History teacher Chace Howland, on the other hand, said, “If the teacher of the class makes sure the distractions stay away from the class, I think it is manageable.”

The quieter setting implemented by closing the library doors has made for a better learning environment. “It has definitely made it quieter,” said Mr. Howland.

“They [students and teachers] are more engaged with what they have to do,” said Librarian Pamela King.

There has been much student opposition to the current policy, however. “I can’t do my homework now. I have to do it at home after softball,” said an anonymous sophomore who did her homework everyday in the library. Some students lead busy lives with sports, jobs, or clubs, and the half hour they are allotted for lunch could be well spent on homework.

The student felt the library was a relatively quiet place to study, and that if classes found it too loud, the library should “make a section where people can go and can’t go,” she said.

Other students felt the problem extended beyond the homework issue. A senior who wished to remain anonymous said, “It [the library] was a safe haven for kids who needed to be in the library because some have social anxiety and can’t be in the cafeteria.”

Although the policy requires the library to be closed when a class is signed up, Mrs. Zanconato and Ms. King are trying to accommodate student needs.

“The reason it [the policy] was put in place was because the current plan wasn’t working,” said Mrs. Zanconato, “but the solution has some issues.” When the class in the library leaves for lunch, the library is temporarily opened for that lunch shift. In a tally of eight recent schools days, the library was open four times during first lunch, seven times during second lunch, and three times during third lunch. Students are still able to come into the library if they have a signed agenda book and are coming from class.

Mrs. Zanconato is creating a feedback form so students can submit ideas to reform the policy. “If students want to provide feedback on the new policy, they can stop by the front desk and ask us how to do that,” she said. Mrs. Zanconato plans to meet with the administration sometime soon to work out the issues of the current policy.