The ABRHS Library Reopens
BY SOPHIA SAGHIR‘24
Venture into the Raymond J. Grey Library at ABRHS, and you’ll find it packed with students completing their homework, taking tests in the silent section, or milling through the bookshelves, looking for their next read. With all of its uses, it’s no surprise that students and staff alike were excited for the library to reopen this past September.
The library was a proverbial ghost town last year, as COVID-19 restrictions forced it to close: the limitations of contact tracing made it difficult for the administration to know where, when, and which students were in the library. Ms. Secino, an ABRHS librarian for over eight years, elaborated, “There were too many moving parts in the library versus a regular classroom.” Furthermore, the decision was made before vaccines were accessible. Aware of the library’s popularity, the administration thought it would be a safer choice to keep its doors shut at the time.
However, the library didn’t leave students without any resources. Instead, it offered a newly created readers’ advisory form: students could fill out these forms for a personalized book suggestion list. Although students may choose to browse books in-person with the library’s reopening, the form remains available.
This year though, the administration feels confident that the library is a safe space for students. With a high vaccination rate amongst students and studies proving surface transmission of COVID-19 to be extremely low, it appears that the library poses no substantial risk. That being said, multiple changes have been implemented for it to remain open. For example, in an effort to reduce density in areas where a large number of students normally congregate, tables that used to have four chairs now only have two. Such changes have affected the library’s environment: its obstreperous nature has been subdued, allowing students to focus on their work.
Another important addition is a contact tracing system: students sign in so that it can be logged when specific students are in the library. Students sign in by either scanning the QR code on the tables or accessing the library website, where the form is linked at the top of the page.
General library resources have also changed in the past three years, most noticeably makeup testing: with students not being allowed to stay after-school last year, they were unable to take makeup assessments after school. The silent section of the library is now dedicated to makeup testing during the school day, where students can take a test during a free period or directed study.
Additionally, the writing center has been closed since the beginning of last year; students could once drop in and receive help with any writing assignment from other high school students. The center closed last year because the teacher who ran it took leave and chose not to return. The library staff would love to see the writing center running again, but there are no current plans to revive it.
Moreover, the library offers tech support and loaner Chromebooks. Such resources have been extremely helpful since technology has become an integral part of students’ lives, especially since the initiation of the 1:1 Chromebook policy. The library website has numerous resources such as databases, book lists, newsletters, and other digital resource tools that have been updated since the pandemic.
Currently, the library is in the process of opening a “library of things,” where students can check out random items they would like to try, such as a calligraphy set or even a ukulele. They hope to open this wonderful, hands-on learning space after February break.
Even with all the changes to COVID-19 guidelines and the resources available in the library in the past three years, one thing has stayed the same: the library is and always will be here as a resource for students. Ms. Secino concluded, “We want the library to be a safe and welcoming place for all students… we're really here to help you. We don’t want anyone to be afraid to ask us for help.”