Cox Library’s New Look and Fewer Books Concern Student Body
by The Milton Measure on Friday, September 30th, 2016
Just this past week, I went into Cox Library with the intention of doing homework but was exiled to the first floor. Indeed, on the third floor, I encountered an enormous Class IV study hall and a lack of single-person desks. Frustrated with my predicament, I realized it was time for class, and I had done absolutely nothing for 45 minutes.
Since the beginning of my time at Milton, I don’t remember a single day when someone has complained about the library. In past years, the library felt like it catered to students’ study needs, with single-occupant study carrels, a computer lab, and old books looking just intimidating enough to scare you back into doing your homework. Now, however, some of the major changes include removing thousands of books, replacing the computer lab, and changing the 2nd floor carrels with tables more suited for group conversation. Yet, we students often forget that the library is not only meant for the lone, studious pupil, but for teachers, classes, Class IV study halls, and the enjoyment of the entire student body.
After talking to Ms. Pearle, the library’s director, I came away with the impression that the changes to the library attempted to please everyone. She highlighted the need for consolidated sections, more resources for younger students, and a more comfortable environment for as many people as possible. The librarians got rid of underused books to make room for newer and more relevant replacements. They are acquiring books at a rate of about 2,000 per year to replace the 13,000 books they removed.
They also plan to purchase more books and research material for younger students, so the middle school’s needs are better met. In order to help students find books faster, they’ve divided the library into different sections: a research section, a young adult section, and a study area on the third floor. They also plan to revamp the library’s image with events such as “Digital Detox Fridays,” during which Ms. Pearle plans to have music on the first floor and highlight the library’s growing collection of pleasure reads.
I support the library’s attempt to promote the fiction section – I believe that books are one of the best ways to relax and escape from the stress of our hectic everyday lives. The satisfaction of sinking into a comfortable armchair with a good book is almost incomparable. I also agree with the librarian’s choice to consolidate the research section on one floor because it will make it much easier for teachers to conduct classes and for students to find books while writing the history research paper.
On the other hand, the relocation of the study carrels has proved very problematic. Class IV study halls of over 40 students overwhelm the third floor, leaving other students with less-than-ideal tables. This inconvenience is not insignificant; I would go as far as saying that the library has, for many students, failed to provide the quiet, isolated environment so essential to the learning process.
The wisdom of getting rid of so many books also remains questionable. With so many books gone, many students wonder if they’ll be able to find everything they need. After all, could the library really have 13,000 books with no useful information? There is no denying the loss of resources there, and it does not appear that the library plans to replace all of those books in the near future.
Although concerns about the specifics of the recent changes are important, the real question is what Cox Library’s purpose should be. In trying to please so many different groups, the library risks becoming less useful for everyone. Who should be the main beneficiaries of Cox’s resources? Should the library be a venue primarily for classes, study halls, or independent work? How can we reconcile the needs of different groups without diminishing the library’s effectiveness?
I guess the problem is that we’ve become accustomed to using the library for studying, and it will be difficult to adjust to the idea that the studious pupil will no longer be its sole user.
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