Library and Literacy Center Reach Maximum Capacity and Turn Away Students; Alternatives Now Available


Sophia Lannoye

Sign displayed on IRC front desk when library is closed.

By Sophia Lannoye, Staff Writer

Many students come to the library, throughout the day during their lunch periods and study halls instead of their assigned locations. With more and more students utilizing the library, the space fills up quickly during certain periods, and students are turned away.

Students choose to go to the library over their original study halls or lunch because of the library’s quiet work environment.

“I go to the library because it’s quieter, relaxing, and less distracting when I need to do work. It’s really annoying when it’s closed because most of the time that’s when I need it the most. The library’s a nice way to decompress after classes and when it’s closed it’s kind of a bummer,” freshman Fiona Payne said.

Other students have also found the library closing to be an inconvenience.

“Usually I have 9th period [study hall] which thankfully isn’t busy so it’s not really a problem then, but once I tried going 5th because I needed to get something done that period and print it but the line cut off right at me. Thankfully they let me in but there was a whole line of people behind me that had to go somewhere else. That day I had rushed to the library too and almost didn’t get in,” junior Nora Graham said.

A common misconception among students is that the library arbitrarily turns away students. However, the computer that tracks students swiping in calculates the capacity of the library.

“Every time a student swipes in on the little card reader right there, the number goes up by one. That being said, it’s not always a hard and fast rule. We have our limit but then let’s say a teacher needs a student to be here because they can’t be in the classroom for whatever reason, as long as they come down with a pass we’ll make space for them,” Circulation Clerk Alfredo Luna said.

The capacity fluctuates on a daily basis depending on the amount of space available and the number of staff members working.

“It only really fills up 2nd period, 5th period, and 8th period. There’s certain days where it’s slower and there’s certain days where it’s busier and it has to do with when students have study halls or their science double. Then if we have a class coming in during a period, we have to drop that number. If we have two classes coming in we have to drop that number again by like one class size, so it’s like 20 or 30 students less from study hall or lunch. Some days we’re short-staffed so it’s going to be even less students,” Luna said.

Alternatively, the Literacy Center (Lit Center) offers drop-in tutoring services available to students both before and after school and during study hall and lunch periods. Similar to the library, the Lit Center fills up when students come to hang out or work independently instead of working with a tutor.

“We are aware of the overflow in the library and other spaces because a lot of the times I’ll have students come in here and say ‘can we please stay, the library is full’ and there are times that I have made that exception because I understand that sometimes there is nowhere else to go. But with that said we do sometimes have our own overflow situation, especially during our busy periods, so really periods two, five and eight, when we might have every seat in here filled,” literacy center secretary Reine Hanna said.

An alternative to the lit center and the library is the student commons which was recently re-opened to students.

“There have been teachers like Ms. Hettinger, or Ms. Kajmowicz, and Ms. Weatherington and others that have been pushing for the commons to be reopened to students and I know Mr. Parthner got involved and they reopened the commons so that’s another space for students to access when the library is full, so to speak,” Hanna said.

For additional help with their academics, the Math and Science Resource Center is open to students for one-on-one help with their teacher.

“Students can come to the Resource Center during their study hall or lunch or a free period and they can call their math or science teacher from the phone in this room and then meet with them here and get help,” math teacher Olga Shafran said.

Another place students can go during their free periods or lunch is the College & Career Resource Center (CCRC) where they can make an individual appointment with the college and career counselor Dan Gin or speak with the college and career assistant Ryan Tucker. Students can receive assistance with any of their post-high school plans or attend a college representative visit.

“The College and Career Resource Center is open from 7:30 [am] to about 3:30-3:45 [pm] every day. Students can come in during their free period or during their lunch period. They can come in here to get help with their post-high school plans, whether that’s going to a two-year or four-year institution, if they’re going to work, if they’re to the military or if they’re looking for apprenticeship programs,” Gin said.

So next time you’re looking for somewhere to go during your off periods when some of the prime locations are full, be sure to utilize all the other resources Niles West has to offer to meet your tutoring and academic needs.