Step in right direction with open library

Editor’s Note: The opinions and attitudes expressed by the authors are those of the authors and not necessarily of the publication’s editorial board.

Through the best of times, the worst of times, ages of wisdom and of foolishness, during our brunches of relief, lunches of abject stress, seasons of heat, cold months of cloudy recess, in the spring of hope for summer, and in the winter of finals despair, we have sought guidance, refuge, the company of our peers and, of course, books — in the library. 

At one time or another each of us has utilized the library to aid us in our academic and social pursuits. In its colorful chalk boards and open aisles we have lost ourselves in stories, met new authors, (like Charles Dickens), escaped senior strippers and discovered a sanctum sanctorum in which to focus on our studies. Some, to the eternal dismay of librarian Rachel Kellerman and assistant librarian Deborah Henry, have claimed its entrance as the location of their daily meet and greets. 

The greatest problem with our library today is not the noisy congregants, the 10 cent printing fees or the rats rumored to be living in its walls. Unfortunately, the library is not open long enough!

Now, more than ever, Paly students need the library, and are rediscovering the utility of library study thanks to Principal Phil Winston. Recently, Winston announced that the library would be open after school, until 7 p.m. Starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, students and teachers gathered to discuss class material, become more confident with their work and to study for finals. 

Usually, the Palo Alto High School library closes at around 4:30 p.m. This allows students roughly one hour to get their work done — assuming they are able to hustle their way from their sixth or seventh period class in five minutes. One might think that an hour constitutes ample time for study, but considering that numerous students have over four hours of homework each night, not to mention extracurricular activities (and maybe even attention deficit issues), an hour after school is insufficient. Other local schools have libraries that close at 6 p.m., such as that of the private Castilleja school down the road, according to Castilleja senior Malaika Ramachandran. Although we may or may not have access to the same level of funds as that elite Palo Alto institution, we can and should try to acquire them. 

Make no mistake: I am very grateful for all of the amazing resources Paly has offered me and my peers over the years. We are lucky to have a library, especially a library as big and as well stocked as ours. Incidentally, a woman at her first day of Palo Alto Adult School on Paly campus approached me last night, looking for CL-2 and said, “Wow, this is a big library.” However, we can better utilize its offerings. 

Many Paly students live in unfavorable conditions for studying, inherently placing them at an academic disadvantage. They are held hostage by tight, crowded homes and the often cacophonous utterances of neighbors. (Although that description may not necessarily befit my condition, as I write this piece my lovely sister is belting the most beautiful yet brain-blocking, synapse-stymying rendition of Italian opera I have yet to hear). Also, students who enjoy studying in groups can do so in the neutral, familiar zone that is the library, as opposed to noisy kitchen tables and silent local libraries. As a community, we owe these students a safe, reasonable place to study during finals and throughout the school year. 

Especially during this hectic finals season, we should be proud that teachers and staff are staying extra hours to help us with our school work and keep the library open. If we could figure out a way to replicate this throughout the school year, despite the cost, those worst times, the lunches of abject stress, might be a little less hectic. 

In the interim, I hope that many more Paly students choose to utilize the library and Academic Resource Center to assist in their endeavors. Stay strong and never give in! I find the advice of Churchill particularly helpful for this time of year and think you will too: “If you are going through hell, keep on going.”