Warning: Now Entering the Hall High Library

Student+throws+chair+as+a+result+of+frustration+with+library+policies.
Student throws chair as a result of frustration with library policies.

Student throws chair as a result of frustration with library policies.

Student throws chair as a result of frustration with library policies.

Luc Anis and Jacob Schneider

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Out of the corner of your eye, you spot movement. Not the usual movement of a student flipping a page, but the movement of a large hulking beast lumbering towards you. You look. There it is; the librarian is walking towards you. Time begins to move in slow motion, and you quickly scramble to get back to work. You can feel the air become frigid and chills run down your spine as she lumbers by your table. Luckily for you, this time, she was not out for your blood.

You hear the booming voice of the librarian bellow, “Only FOUR chairs to a table!” The shrill screams of anguished students fill the air.  

Student act like they are working to avoid punishment. By: Luc Anis & Jacob Schneider

“But we are working on a project together,” they reason, however the librarian rules with an iron fist: “Only FOUR chairs to a table,” she repeats.

The students roll their eyes and disperse. You feel sympathy for your peers, for this has happened to you a multitude of times. You think to yourself: the students are lucky they did not get kicked out.

This is a common story in the Hall High School Library. Since 1970, the year when the present Hall High School opened, the library has been an important, yet dreadful place. Each day, hundreds of students go to the library to work collaboratively, complete homework, play chess, and read books. The library may sound like the place to be if you want to be productive, however the reality is far more grim.

The Student Handbook states that the main area of the library is intended to be used for quiet work. Collaboration should occur in the closed-off workroom. In a school with over 1300 students, the fact that there is only one workroom offered is simply outrageous. Moreover, the implied expectation that other students who need to work together simply will not, is unrealistic. In addition, it never states in the handbook that tables in the library cannot have more than four chairs. Where that rule came from is a mystery. The Hall High School library discourages the collaborative element of education, which becomes detrimental for students when they enter a professional work environment.

To investigate the scene as undercover reporters, we traveled to the Hall Library. The scenes were as expected. Students were working somewhat quietly at computers, tables, and desks. Mrs. O’Donnell, one of the library teaching assistants, was at the helm of her ship. We sat down at a round table with Naiela Suleiman, a senior, who told us about her experience with the Hall Library. Just two weeks ago, Naiela was written up for putting away an uneaten snack. The librarians told her, “Next time you’re kicked out, and the next time you’re banned.”

Well that escalated quickly.

Naiela, a student who follows the no-eating policy, felt targeted, annoyed, and confused. She went on to state, “This place is a horror story.”

Another senior, Isabelle Amato, shares similar frustrations. Before we tell her story, we would like to highlight the following line in the student handbook: “The Library is a flexible access, resource-based environment available to all students and staff.”

Let’s get into it.

Earlier this year, Isabelle walked into the library with a few friends from her lunch table and was immediately turned away at the door. They literally did nothing. Isabelle and her friends were stripped of a positive learning experience because of an abuse of power.

Do not get the wrong idea. The library is still a valuable place to work, however it is very well known throughout the student body that the rules are overly harsh. All the students want is a place where they can work without every action being scrutinized.

Writer’s note: Jacob Schneider and Luc Anis were threatened with removal from the library when gathering material for this article.

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