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Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

Panther Press

Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

Panther Press

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Mistreatment of school and classroom libraries prompts staff intervention

Teachers and staff members created their own measures to protect their libraries from abuse.
Books+for+all.+Free+books+line+a+cart+outside+of+the+library+for+students+to+take.
Claire Salera ’27
Books for all. Free books line a cart outside of the library for students to take.

About sixty students spend their fifth block in the library each day, according to School Librarian Ms. Beth Cohen.

Libraries are a huge resource for students all across the country. In addition to students using Strath Haven’s library during fifth block, about five hundred books are checked out a year.

However, teachers have been noticing stolen or damaged books and facilities, forcing them to find ways to adapt their library systems. Whether it be a public, school, or classroom library, the mistreatment of these resources leads to a lack of resources among students.

With so many students using the library each day, keeping it clean and usable is essential. Cohen admits that students are not always respectful of the library’s shared space.

“People leave trash around, or there’s lots of gum stuck on the undersides of chairs and tables,” Cohen said.

Senior Leah Gonzalez-Diaz, who is also an Editor-in-Chief of Jabberwocky (Haven’s Literary and Arts Magazine), finds that the vandalism of the library’s furniture has also occurred.

“In a lot of the old chairs that there are, people will carve things into the back and write things on them,” Gonzalez-Diaz said.

On the other hand, when there is damage found in the library’s books, Ms. Cohen finds that the damage is little and not severe enough to be of concern.

“It’s either a little bit of water damage because people will put [book] in their bags and then their water bottle will leak, and every now and then there will be crumbs in it because people were eating while they were reading the book. Minor damage like that,” Cohen said. “I don’t get them back with pages missing or huge stains.”

An innocent droplet of water or a measly little crumb may not be all that the library sees when it comes to book treatment. In the case that any books are not returned at all, the library is prepared.

“We have a security system, that’s what those pillars are in the doorway,” Cohen said. “All of the books have a security tag. When the security system is turned on, the book beeps when you leave. And when you check out a book, we put the due-date sticker over it, so it doesn’t beep. Most public libraries have similar systems.”

Many students are unaware that this security system exists in our library. While the security system is news to Gonzalez-Diaz, she agrees with Ms. Cohen about the lack of damage to the library books.

“To be honest, I haven’t noticed any vandalism personally. I’ve never really heard of any strict measures or specific surveillance that’s been going on for this kind of thing,” Gonzalez-Diaz said.

In addition to the school library, classroom libraries are often taken advantage of, specifically by students who take books and never return them. This leads to teachers needing to implement their security initiatives.

Freshmen English and Creative Writing Teacher Ms. Reagan Lattari uses an online system called Libib to keep track of which of her books are out. Libib is a service that helps schools or libraries catalog and keep track of books and other resources.

“What I try to do with kids who aren’t in my class is I try to have them write down their name and the book they have taken out, and later import it into our Libib account,” Lattari said. “With my students, I try to spy on the titles that they have and check those into our Libib account. Once in a while, I’ll go around and check in with people to see what books they have out.”

Lattari finds that instances of lost books are often accidental, usually resulting from students forgetting what books they took out.

“People just pick up a book, throw it in their bag, and then just pick a different book the next day and forget they had it, things like that,” Lattari said.

Other teachers have found different workarounds to help prevent books from being lost, some making sacrifices to keep books safe and plentiful. Freshmen English Teacher Ms. Kate Evans uses one of these different systems.

“The kids don’t take the books home, they leave them in the classroom,” Evans said.

Let this story be a lesson to treat our school’s libraries (and all libraries) with respect, remembering that a lot of work goes behind the scenes to keep them functioning and enjoyable.

And remember one of the most important reasons to return your library books.

“Anything that isn’t returned has to get paid for before a senior graduates,” Cohen said.*

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About the Contributors
Claire Salera '27
Claire Salera '27, Reporter
Claire is a freshman here at Strath Haven. She has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember, often writing in her free time. At Strath Haven, Claire is an active member of the danceline, tennis team, and dance haven. She is super excited to be a part of the Panther Press staff this year, and to be able to share her love of writing with the student body.
Lavanya Dixit '27
Lavanya Dixit '27, Reporter
Lavanya Dixit is a freshman at Strath Haven High School. She enjoys writing, doing karate, art, watching movies, and listening to music. She loves to spend time with her friends and family, specifically her younger brother.
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