Emma Olson, Staff Writer

Libraries were created with the intention of fostering the academic growth of humanity in its entirety, enclosed by walls and walls of the world’s most knowledgeable source: books. For years in the past, the school library was undoubtedly the most beneficial tool any school could offer for the educational development of its students, especially after the outbreak of computer accessibility around the 1980’s. And only in the recent decade has technology swallowed the libraries’ usefulness to students. Why make the grueling trip to open and search through a book when I can just Google it? The answer seems brainless, but just because advanced technology is now a key aspect of American society today does not mean that we should use the library less. As a matter of fact, there should be great advocacy more now than ever for students to use the library for whatever educational means they deem necessary – to better their academic progress as a way to preserve this foundation of American education, rather than let technology slowly dim the light of great possibility that a library holds for students across the nation.

Yet somehow, in some crazy way, it seems that access to a school library is a lot more complicated regardless of the growing abundance of resources. I find the library to be one of the most relaxing spaces for a student to get their work done, or simply take a few silent moments to crack open a book or just relax from the everyday stresses that come with being a student, regardless of your workload. However, at Lincoln-Way Central, students cannot go and sit in the library unless they have a study hall, Spanish tutoring, or a pass from a teacher for a designated assignment. I was even told I could not use the library unless I had an actual reason/teacher that sent me there, which I then, therefore, had to sign in for. Is it so necessary to have students jump through so many hoops just to use the library for the very purpose in which its creation was intended?

Personally, it seems contradictory and makes me not want to go through the trouble when I simply want to be a good student and use my time efficiently in a space where I am more than capable of completing my tasks. It almost seems like a punishment in a jail cell to be so checked-up on and accounted for when I simply just want to sit in the library to do my homework instead of my advisory.

So, I asked our school librarians – Mrs. Koesche and Mrs. Sargis- about the rules implemented and why they are implemented. Of course, one issue they touched on was the accounting factor. Staff obviously needs to know where students are, and in their words, “Since we have so many individuals using the library, we need to know what student is here and why they are here to continue to keep it as a beneficial resource for students.” Also, they added that the use of passes and checking in with teachers was originally implemented because: “One, it allows us to know what the student is working on in the library. Two, if the student needs to be located and someone goes to study hall, the teacher knows where the student went.” Finally, they end their response with expressing how there used to be a more open policy, but students began to abuse this privelege and the library became “extremely loud and unruly,” thus concluding with: “this is the policy that best fits the current situation.”

I am extremely grateful for the response of Mrs. Koesche and Mrs. Sargis because it does provide me insight on issues I did not really consider. Obviously, students should be accounted for, but where I lose my agreement is in the manner it is done. Rather than going through the trouble of having a teacher sign off for you to use the library, why couldn’t there be a sign-in sheet at the front desk with all the necessary questions for students to fill out, and in addition, the student can send a quick Teams chat to their advisory teacher, indicating that they are in the library. This puts the responsibility of accounting for the student in the student’s hands, and if they are marked absent, the student is responsible. Advisory is especially a time where students have a little more freedom and can use resources around the school to  their benefit. Also, I understand that it is not the librarians’ duties to make sure kids can keep themselves in check, but kids who are causing chaos can simply be banned from using the library for their advisory. More times than not, those kids causing chaos will not cause an uproar if they no longer are allowed to use the library because they clearly were not using it in a way that was extremely beneficial to them- you can talk to your friends at lunch, in advisory, and in your classes.

The library is a privilege to students, but my main point is that it should be an easily accessible privilege to anyone who wants to use it for the right reasons. I do not believe teh current method is the best method, and I understand that this is administration’s perception of what is best for the students – but here I am, a student, who has been told I cannot use the library without a pass when I was trying to do my homework, who is friends with someone who was using the library without a pass to get help from a friend on her math homework and got yelled at, who sees the flaws with the system and believes that with a compromise between both students and administration, we can restore the intent of the library and maintain its potential for those students who want to rightfully take advantage of its power on their academic excellence.