Library Hijinks

Arnold Von Engelbrechten, Staff Writer

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We’ve all heard the famed quote, “a few bad apples can ruin the whole lot.” It’s a quote that resonates deeply for many Americans living in the 21st century, however, it remains to be a fallacy overlooked by many people in positions of authority. In politics, this quote seems more relevant than ever. Conservatives often underline that law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t have to pay for the actions of a few crazed maniacs whose mass shootings have caused panic and uproar over assault rifles. On the other hand, liberals too argue that the millions of Arab immigrants flooding the western world en masse shouldn’t be barred from entering due to the extremist actions of a few. “Collective Punishment” as it is called, is covertly the cause of much debate.

Though when asking anyone about collective punishment they’ll surely assert that it is erroneous (or even illegal as the Geneva Convention of 1949 did) many do not realize that often their political, social, and sometimes even religious opinions hinge on an idea of collective punishment or reasoning.

As one of the most whole-hearted library goers in the school, I hold a big stake in the Wean Research Library as a space to be used both during and after school as an area for learning, collaboration, and quiet. Since freshman year I’ve used the building from 3:30 to 7:00 (or later) to complete my homework after school. Though not an avid reader of the library’s books, I can assure you that (surprisingly) there are people who spend time after school reading the books. Though not a majority by any means, I wouldn’t expect that many people to be reading the books anyway with the amount of work given.

However, despite my love for the Wean Library, I frequently find myself disappointed by the horseplay and yelling that occurs there during and after school. From a wrestling match to bowling in the lower stacks to playing “tag,” these students have disenchanted the intellectual atmosphere the library promotes. Thankfully, I can confirm that this minority is a set of repeat offenders. The kids who toss books off the third floor are the same kids who fall down the stair well and break a leg.

On Monday, February 12, 2018, I was astonished to find my beloved library locked behind closed doors. After loitering around the door, I soon discovered that this new rule — enacted without the consent or awareness of the student body — restricted the use of the library after 4:00 PM. I swiftly consulted our librarian, who, after a bit of prodding, denied any involvement with the passage of the new rule. She claimed that it was the doing of rabble-rousers who’ve disrupted the library since before winter break. She cited one specific incident where a student, after school, fell down the flight of metal stairs leading up to the third level of the library, injuring his leg and resulting in cast. This, coupled with a series of other incidents, led to the closing of the library. When asked, Mr. Gallagher, the incumbent headmaster, claimed to know nothing of the library’s new rule or the incident. Troubled, I went to Mr. Daughtrey who shed both more light, and added confusion to the new policy. His claim revolved around a new maintenance schedule that, instead of having staff working in the library after school, now had members of the staff rotating differently, hitting the library cleanup last thus leaving it unattended.

Wherever the origins of the new rule may be, its upsetting to me and other dedicated library-lovers to see it in action. It has displaced a host of loyal after school users of the library due the actions of the few. And the idea that, after 4:00PM, the upper commons is just as quiet as the library is false as well. By closing off the library, it relocates the same noise and noise-makers that were in the library to the upper commons. Furthermore, the administration’s lack of trust in the student body to make wise decisions in the library are erroneous in two facets. Firstly, in a school that values independency and freedom as tenants of our code of conduct, it seems interesting that the administration cannot leave students alone in the library. The assumption shouldn’t be that it will go wrong, but instead that we will act maturely. Second, even during the “old” rotation of the cleaning staff, their presence was produced no change in the way kids acted in the library. Likewise, as someone whose spend a lot of time in the library, often times, I would never even see cleaning staff!

So, as the few continue to ruin it for the many, we can only hope for the administration’s change in heart to recover the widely cherished library.