The Library-A State of Disaster!

When I think of a library, I think of countless shelves of books, tables lined up, and people quietly doing work under the watchful eye of a strict librarian. The library at Ramaz Upper School has none of these things. What our school library actually is, is a shul, lounge, lunchroom, and classroom. With a lack of a librarian and no system of taking out books, it has become another hang-out area with little supervision where it is hard to get work done. Libraries should be filled with a wide variety of books, but unfortunately, the Ramaz library does not fulfill that expectation either.

Whenever I have a free period or some time to get work done in school, I head to the library. I find myself stepping over broken lounge chairs and maneuvering through the mess of wobbly tables. Often, I cannot find one and have to sit with my computer on my lap since the tables move too much. In addition to the wobbly tables, there are rocking chairs which are severely uncomfortable to sit on. A staple in many school libraries is computers that students can have full access to if they do not have personal laptops. While Ramaz has a table of desktop computers, they do not work. If a student forgets their laptop, it is difficult to access a school computer to use in the interim. 

School libraries are supposed to be places where students can go to complete their work quietly, or receive help in finding sources for research papers. While the library has a few shelves full of scholarly books, they are not used as there is no one to help students navigate them. The shelves of both Judaic and secular books have not been touched in years. Additionally, there are two shelves with fiction books that could better fit in a middle school library. The addition of a dedicated librarian who could help students find research materials both in the library and online would be extremely beneficial to the student body.

In the mornings, the library is home to senior tefillah. Rows of chairs, a mechitza, a bimah, and an ark are set up in the library. After Tefillah is over, some of the chairs and the mechitza are removed, however, they are not replaced by tables. All the tables are crammed into one side of the library and it is often hard to find a place to sit and do work. The rest of the library is empty, with unutilized space, and a few rows of chairs which are inconvenient to do work on. 

Additionally, school libraries should be a place where students can arrange to have meetings with teachers. Unfortunately, the library is often too loud and there are not enough tables to have proper meetings. 

Many people, including myself, see the library as the school’s third lounge. The comfy beanbag chairs and relaxed environment make it a better lounge than library. Many students use it as a place to hang out with friends and even as a place to eat lunch. Many students who use the library do not clean up after themselves and by the end of the day, the tables are covered in trash. Although the library may not have all the features of a successful school library, it is still up to the students to treat it with care and respect. 

Ramaz is aware of the issue of the barely functioning library and even went so far as to bring in an expert last year. The administration brought in Dr. Daniel Stein Kokin, a college professor who evaluated the state of the library in an attempt to outline the changes that should be made. Unfortunately, it seems that nothing has come from his evaluation since the library is still in a state of disorder and has gone back to being disregarded by the administration. Understandably, there are more pressing issues that need to be addressed at the school. Nevertheless, restructuring the library should become a priority. It is a shame to let the books go to waste. A good start would be adding more tables, working computers, and trying to find a librarian. Ramaz should take advantage of the opportunity to make the library a unique space where students can be academically productive while hanging out with friends in a calm environment.