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Chieftain Press

Media Center Harsh Rules

Vicky Tuttle, Sports Editor

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A library is a peaceful place to go to read, do homework, and to study and collaborate with peers on school work.  As a senior at Nashoba, I have experienced much of the change that has occurred over the years with the various study locations and new rules. Recently, rules have gotten out of control. In order to use the media center during a study, students have to go online and sign up the night before in order to get in. In my opinion, that is ridiculous. No other schools or colleges make students have to sign up to use a library; it is open and free to the students at all times.

Here at Nashoba, if not signed up for the media center and desire to get in, students are forced to go to the cafeteria to get a pass which are limited to only 10 students. In the past, study’s were held in the foyer and also the media center. The foyer did not work because kids would be late to class due to it being on the other side of the building. To fix this, last year, locations changed to the cafeteria and the Media Center. In addition, this summer the media center added classrooms to the back area, causing it to have less space.

It has been brought to my attention that the sign-up rules of the media center for study hall bring a range of feelings to students, many negative,  and cause students to become upset, especially seniors. As being the oldest in the school and having much to get done for college, we should have priority access to the media center. When I was a sophomore, I would rarely go to the media center because it was known that most seniors and juniors took up the coveted space. Now seniors are not able to get in because of underclassmen and teachers bringing in their classes, which is seems to be unfair.

The most outrageous piece of this is the fact that there are no good study spaces here at this school and the rules that are place do not make it easy for students to access a place to study. For kids who don’t have work to do or who want to simply fool around, it makes sense that they should stay in the cafeteria. But for students who have work and deadlines that need to be met, individuals should have priority to the library, especially for upperclassman.  Having a study  in one’s schedule is beneficial for students, but it is unfortunate for students who have this time available, but are unable to get work done and are forced to go to the cafeteria due to the sign-up rules. Nashoba has lost prime real estate in the media center due to recent moves in the building; staff and students need to come together and think of a way to improve the study hall and media center process even with the reduced space. By brainstorming for a new solution and space for students to go, students will be benefited. But for now, the system remains frustrating and difficult to manage.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Media Center Harsh Rules”

  1. Ms. Landry on October 10th, 2017 11:14 am

    I would first like to acknowledge that it is very brave to write an article for the newspaper knowing that it will be seen by a lot of people. I would also like to thank the writer of the piece called “Media Center Harsh Rules”. Ms. Tuttle brings many important issues to light.
    I agree with her that “A library is a peaceful place to go to read, do homework, and to study and collaborate with peers on school work.” The editorial raised a number of complaints about the rules and systems in place in Nashoba’s library. I’d like to take this opportunity to address some of Ms. Tuttle’s misunderstandings.

    While I try to remain objective, I DO take even the slightest implication of unfairly- restricted access very personally and seriously. Unfairly restricting access goes against my personal and professional beliefs. The American Library Association also takes very seriously a perception of unfair restricted access to a library. For both of these reasons, it feels very important to me to clear up the misunderstandings conveyed in Ms. Tuttle’s editorial.

    The rules that have been in place since last year were implemented in order to ensure that our library is an academic space where students, staff, and all members of our community feel safe, supported and welcome– the very atmosphere that the writer has indicated that she wants. In order to create such a civilized atmosphere, there have to be rules and parameters — just as there are in any setting that serves a broad range of people.

    A few years ago, campus study was moved from the cafeteria to the auditorium foyer. At that time, the principal and previous librarian instituted a policy that resulted in the library becoming a study hall for upwards of 50 students per period. If teachers were absent, the library would be inundated with even more students. There was not enough space for teachers to bring in their classes to use the library resources for academic pursuits. The library was no longer a library: it was an out of control student lounge. Often, the library was littered with trash and in general left in disarray. The library staff was spending a lot of time cleaning up and managing inappropriate student behavior, taking time away from supporting students and teachers. Somehow, there grew a culture that Seniors were entitled to take over the library and use it for mostly non-academic purposes, creating an atmosphere where others felt uncomfortable and intimidated. As the Ms. Tuttle indicated: “When I was a sophomore, I would rarely go to the media center because it was known that most seniors and juniors took up the coveted space. Now seniors are not able to get in because of underclassmen and teachers bringing in their classes…”. I used to see the look of terror on a Freshman or Sophomore when he/she came in. That culture and atmosphere had to stop — because our library needs to be an academic space for everyone.

    Yes, the library is now used for classes, teachers and underclassmen, as it should be. Yes, maybe the underclassmen are taking the 10 minutes a week to sign up for library study hall. Some the most vocal complaints come from students who do not follow the simple procedure for study hall.

    Two years ago I was approached by some teachers asking how we could reclaim the library as an academic space that was conducive to teaching and learning.
    We met and brainstormed. I contacted high school librarians through a professional organization called the Massachusetts School Library Association. I asked how other high school librarians managed study halls. We compiled the responses and we brought forward a proposal to the principal. It was presented at a faculty meeting and was instituted at the beginning of last school year.

    Ms. Tuttle’s editorial showed misunderstandings of the NRHS library study hall system. She indicated that “No other schools or colleges make students have to sign up to use a library; it is open and free to the students at all times.” Many high school librarians use this model for library study hall management. There were other models that require students to physically go to the library EVERY SINGLE MORNING before school starts, sign up and get a pass from the librarian, report to their assigned study hall classroom at the start of his/her study period (in our case it would be the caf), give the pass to the teacher and then go to the library.
    Ms. Tuttle also indicated that “ In order to use the media center during a study, students have to go online and sign up the night before in order to get in.”

    In fact, the procedure for study hall sign up is the following:

    Every Sunday evening around 6:00 or 7:00 pm, I open study hall sign up for the week ahead. Students are encouraged to sign up for the whole week if they know that the library is where they want to spend study hall. I tweet when the sign up is ready.
    Students can, however, sign up for study right up until the bell rings for the period on the day that they have study hall.
    Students who sign up for library study hall come to the library, put their initials next to their name on the print out from the sign up.
    Students who sign up after I print out the roster for the day (usually around 7:15 am) come to the library and write their name on the printout that is checked against the electronic version of the sign up.
    Students who do not sign up for study hall must report to the cafeteria and get a pass from the study hall teacher on duty.
    Communication between the study hall teachers in the cafe and the library is open. If there are a lot of students in the caf (some periods are overwhelmingly large), the teacher can and does call us and we determine how many more students we can accept. 10 additional students from the caf can be sent up to the library, but if we have space, more are welcome WITH A LEGITIMATE PASS from the teacher on study hall duty. If we have classes in the library, it may be less.
    If a student does not have access to the internet or computer outside of school, he/she can come to the library and sign up in the morning for the week, or for a single class period. The library opens at 7:00 am.

    Ms. Tuttle was correct in writing that we DID lose space this year in the library: “This summer the media center added classrooms to the back area, causing it to have less space.” This decision was made at a district and building administration level. As a result, yes, we needed to set limits on the number of study hall students in the library at a given time. Not only was library space eliminated, a library assistant position was eliminated. If I am teaching a class, one library assistant cannot be responsible for supervising 50 or more students.

    I believe that the culture and atmosphere in the library over the past two or three years has improved greatly. I take pride in the warm, active, welcoming space that the library is, as it serves and is accessible to over 1000 students and more than 100 staff members.
    The community puzzle, the coloring pages, the makerspace activities, the newly formed unofficial chess club and activities that I have planned for this school year are evidence that I want the library to be a vibrant, comfortable, safe and warm space where all members of the NRHS community feel welcome and supported. I do not believe I have ever turned away a student who needed to use the library. I will, however, question a student who is not contributing to a space that “is a peaceful place to go to read, do homework, and to study and collaborate with peers on school work.”

    [Reply]

    Chieftain Press Reply:

    We thank you for such a complete and thoughtful response to the recent editorial about the media center published last week on this site. Our staff is looking to reach out to you for a followup interview. Thanks again for reaching out to the Chieftain Press.

    [Reply]

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