Life without the library

Students, teachers adapt to changes


Photo by Elisa Carroll

A vacant table sits in the middle of the large, empty library. With its closure due to COVID-19, students are no longer allowed to use the space to sit and do work or browse the shelves for books. “I really miss being able to use the library as a quiet and calm place to stay focused and study,” junior Elise Little said.

Elisa Carroll, Web Editor

Whether situated on the tall tables between the rows of books or sitting in cubicles on the third floor, students in past years have relied on the library as a calm and quiet place to study. This year, however, COVID-19 restrictions have left the library almost completely empty and unused, leaving avid book readers and those who rely on its studious environment without a place to go.

As Library Director, Corey Lott has seen many of the changes made to the library.

“The biggest change, of course, is not having students in the library,” Lott said. “And with this comes the inability for students to browse the shelves.”

Especially for juniors, who relied heavily on the library and its resources during the first half of the year for their Junior Research Papers, this change altered their process to obtain books for research. To work around this, the library created a book request form and a separate one for the JRP.

“We still wanted students to be able to check out books, especially during the JRP, so this was the best way we could think to allow this,” Lott said. “We think the book request form has been very useful, especially during the JRP.”

Dr. Keith Clark is new to the faculty and teaches AP US History. As an instructor for students writing the JRP in the fall, Clark guided students to use the library’s new resources.

“The library was an incredible resource for students writing their JRPs,” Clark said. “The protocols did not hinder them from obtaining stacks of books and accessing articles relevant to their research.”

Other changes have included placing checked-out books on a cart outside the library doors for students to pick up, quarantining returned books for at least three days before they are re- shelved and creating a user-friendly library webpage.

“While there is something to that occasional serendipitous find when browsing the stacks, still being able to get a hold of physical books remains better than only getting them electronically,” Clark said. “Overall, the restrictions do not seem onerous and the tradeoff for safety is well worth the additional steps.”

As a new teacher, Clark never participated in the experience of going to the physical library and browsing the shelves. Despite missing out on this aspect of the library, he speaks highly of the library’s web page.

“I’ve mostly used it to look up resources for classes and to direct students to more information on topics,” Clark said. “The layout is intuitive and easy to use, which makes it accessible. I have also used its databases for some of my own research.”

Before the pandemic, junior Elise Little had used the library since she came to Hockaday as a freshman.

“For me, the library was really great because I need a calm and quiet study space to get in the zone and get stuff done,” Little said. “I’m not really the kind of person that can go and do homework at a coffee shop.”

With other overall changes due to COVID-19, students now spend conferences and Y periods in advisory and free blocks in designated rooms. Since these settings always entail students being in a space with others, those who need isolation or quiet to focus have had to adjust to this change.

“Especially if you stay during Y period, it is difficult to find a quiet space to study if you’re with your advisory,” Little said. “Not only does my advisory talk, but I also like to talk to them, so it’s not a good combination to get homework done in a busy junior year.”

Junior Kendall Marchant is a part of the Perry-Thumlert advisory, which happens to have its advisory location in the library.

“It’s really nice to have advisory in the library because we can use different sections of it to your needs,” Marchant said. “We usually spend time together as an advisory on the couches by the windows, but then if you need to go study or do homework then you can go off to the little cubicles to focus and get things done.”

With only one other advisory in the entire library with them, the Perry- Thumlert advisory largely has the space to themselves. Marchant feels lucky to have access to such a space for the lengthy parts of the day when she is in advisory.

“The library is also very calm since there really isn’t anyone else in here,” Marchant said. “I know students that have advisories in classrooms can get really distracted easily with everyone being in there, so it’s nice for us in the library to be able to go off and have time to yourself if you need it.”

The librarians do not know if the library will reopen for students to work in during the 2021-2022 school year. However, it will continue to have resources on its webpage for students to access.

“The library is just so quiet and empty,” Lott said. “We really miss having students in the library and can’t wait for them to return!”