Webster Groves High School’s library was the first public library for the city of Webster Groves; recently, it has been a hub for student traffic.The library opens at 7 a.m. On Wednesdays and Fridays, it closes at 3 p.m. On every other day it is open until 3:45 p.m. These times have been cut down from last year, when it was open until 3:45 every afternoon.
During the school day, students must have passes when visiting the library, and the library is also closed during lunch unless a student has a pass. Students can get a pass by getting one from the librarians before school. Academic Lab teachers can send five students to the library in one class, while more students can go to the library depending on if they have a pass from a teacher.
About the new closing times assistant principal, John E. Thomas, said, “On most days a week, we have clubs, sporting activities and tutoring that students can attend, and the library became an overflow place. The library staff will be supporting students in other ways after school on the two days that they are closed.”
“Certain library services and staff have been reduced as a result of the failed 2015 Webster Groves Schools’ tax referendum,” Media specialist Sandy Coblitz said about the changes.
Taylor Howard, junior, said, “Now that it closes at three, we don’t have time to do anything.”
Students only have around 20 minutes on Wednesdays and Fridays to get work done. For students who don’t have access to computers at home, this is seen as an issue.
About her why the rules were made, Coblitz said, “We have to be accountable for where students are. If you’re walking around the building and you don’t have purpose, you’re disturbing class.” Students need to be accounted for in case of an emergency.
Having students walk through the library can be a distraction to the students working.
The librarians also reference the letter to the editor in the May 2017 issue of the ECHO. The letter to the editor was written by 2017 graduate, Dorothea Starr LeBeau. It is a satire about the library rules. One line from the letter said, “ If they want to tread on these sacred surfaces just because it’s ‘faster’ and ‘more efficient,’ and they don’t want to ‘walk around the whole f****** school,’ they need to respect our arbitrary rules and spend an inordinate amount of time at the tablet.”
She was referring to how it is required to sign into the library. When LeBeau was recently asked about her thoughts on the rules, she replied, “The sole reason I didn’t check out books was because the librarians were so rude.”
The library used to be open for all students at lunch time, and now students must have a pass to utilize the library. For students who prefer quieter, less crowded places to eat lunch, there is a new alternative to the cafeteria. It is in the PD room, which is staffed by teachers.
Some students have negative comments about the library rules.
One anonymous source said, “Oh my god, I hate them, so unnecessary. The librarians are dictators.”
Senior Natali Park, said, “The librarians are mean. I haven’t ever had a good experience.”
To counter this, librarian Kathy Swanson said, “Some kids think we did this to be mean. We’re really trying to help kids.”
The library isn’t planning on changing the closing times and pass rules anytime soon.
Lastly, Coblitz said, “If you visit any other library, it’s not a hallway.”
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