Published Dec. 14, 2023
BY AVERY PALSHAW
First implemented last spring after students were being disruptive and leaving behind trash in the Carmel High School library, a rule of a 45-person capacity during office hours continues to prompt generally negative responses from students.
The library’s current policy on capacity is that it remains at a 99-person maximum except during office hours on Thursdays, where the maximum capacity drops to 45 people in addition to CHS Tutoring Club members.
In mid-February of last school year, several CHS students who regularly utilize the library made requests that it be a quieter space for students to read or study. Around 50 students signed a petition created by librarian Philip Crawford asking for a well-kept and less noisy library.
“Last year we were getting 150, 175 students in here, and I would say the previous administration didn’t really want to deal with it,” explains Crawford, who decided to take the matter into his own hands by enforcing the mandated occupancy of 99.
Though the fire department set the library’s occupancy at a 99-person maximum, the excessive number of students in the library, especially during office hours and on rainy days, posed safety concerns if there were to be an emergency. In addition to there being too many students, Crawford describes the state of the library last school year as being noisy, along with there being food and trash left behind by students. He recalls finding food, trash and other items shoved behind bookshelves and furniture.
“If we didn’t change things particularly around occupancy and food, the library would have been trashed this year,” expresses the CHS librarian of three years.
Some students recognized the notable difference in noise levels after the occupancy was reduced during office hours.
“It’s definitely quieter, because in the mornings when you have more people in the library, it can get loud sometimes,” senior David Cortez says. “Overall, it’s a change for the better.”
While some students were adamant about having a clean, quiet place on campus to study and read, others felt that imposing a 45-person maximum capacity during office hours hindered their ability to utilize the library as a resource.
“Ultimately, it comes down to whoever gets [to the library] first,” junior Maura Guzzi says. “There’s only 45 people who can go inside, so if you’re coming from working in another class during office hours and want to go to the library to do work and use that as a resource, it’s not available to you because you didn’t get there at the start of office hours.”
Since office hours have become mandatory as of this school year, and students are unable to leave campus during those 40 minutes, some students say that the library has become an even more vital resource for studying and working on school work.
“If you’re going to take away one of the best learning spots at this school, what’s even the point of having office hours?” senior Grant Xu says. “There will just be people wandering around campus and talking with their friends instead of actually using that time.”
The library also becomes increasingly crowded when it rains at CHS, as many students will go there to stay dry from the rain. Yet there are other resources for students on campus, as many teachers’ classrooms are open to students on rainy days, and all are required to be open to students during office hours.
“Students have to be supervised, and there’s only the librarian and the librarian tech, so if you have a ton of kids who are doing stuff in the library, trying to manage that can be a problem,” principal Libby Duethman explains.
The CHS principal anticipates the library’s current capacity policy will be a permanent change.