The Library: It Is Past Time for an Update


Ayal Englander

Many students visit the library during lunch.

During lunch, the library is intended for students to use as a quiet place to study, finish work, or read a book. This year, however, the library has not been used that way – something that students and teachers should be concerned about.

“On average, there’s about 70 students in the library [during lunch] and I would say that about half the students are hanging out and half are working, computers and papers out, collaborating with each other,” Ms. O’Reilly says. 

Ms. O’Reilly has been a media specialist for 21 years and has been at East for 8. She started her journey to East at Cooper Elementary then Rosa Middle School.

“[The] level of circulation was massive. Hundreds of books were checked out [consistently]. The amount of books that circulated in a month at elementary school is probably what we have [here at East] through the entire school year,” Ms. O’Reilly says.

So what is the reason for the lack of interest and underutilization of the library at East? 

“The high school library currently has about 80% of our print collection being fiction books and I feel that our students do not have the time to read fiction books and it’s not something they’d choose to do during their free time,” Ms. O’Reilly says. 

Mr. Duffield, who frequently monitors the library during lunch, believes that he has never seen a student check out a library book.

“Why would they?” he asks.

Cherry Hill East possesses a massive collection of online databases, ebooks, and digital resources that, unlike the fiction books of the library, are aligned to the curriculum and assignments that teachers give out. 

“[I would] like to expand our collection to provide more physical hard copy books that could be aligned with the things students are doing in the classroom,” Ms. O’Reilly says.

However, she also recognizes that “[books] are expensive and…[can] lose [their] relevance in under 5 years.” 

Another blaring issue in the library’s lack of appeal to many students is the crowded environment. Students who expect a silent zone to work or an alternative seating area during lunch time are often disappointed. 

“There’s not enough seating [in the library], so a lot of people are just standing around,” says Curits Lu (‘25), a student who uses the library almost every day.

The reality is that there’s not enough seating options at Cherry Hill East for everyone. The library has consequently turned into a seating option, which many students take advantage of. However, such students do not use the library to accomplish academic work or check out a book. 

“Every day, every time I’m there, [students sit on the floor]. If someone was looking for a quiet place to study, the library isn’t that place [anymore],” says Mr. Duffield. 

To Duffield, the crowded library also can prove disruptive to students using the library properly. 

Ms. O’Reilly has some potential solutions to the issue. She believes that prioritizing all students is the way to handle this problem, rather than trying to get those who don’t accomplish work out of the library. 

“My hope is that with the bond money we will be able to make the annex more library-like, at least furniture wise. I agree that there needs to be a space within the library that is available for those who want silence but I also think that given that we’re in a high school and given the population our library serves, I don’t think the entire space needs to be silent.” 

Ms. O’Reilley also believes the library should be a space for all of our students to find a home, even if they want to eat and to talk, as long as there is a level of respect still involved. This would make the library more comfortable for all students to continue using.

In the meantime, educational assistants are being added to supervise the computer lab, which opens up another option. We are on the way to great improvement, one step at a time. 

“What kind of school do we look like with students sitting on the dirty floor?” Mr. Duffield says. 

Mr. Duffield is right: It is past time for an update.