Lights out for the Library

By: Damaris Acosta

Last year a few students and this reporter had a group project to work on, and because of other involvements such as homework, clubs, and sports, we met at the school library after class to work on the project.  At that time, we were told that we weren’t allowed to use the computers because they were reserved for the virtual school students and so we resolved to just stay and hand-write some parts for the time being. We were then notified that we were not allowed to be in the library after school hours either. Needless to say, we found other means of finishing the project, but this reporter was still perturbed. I wondered why students weren’t allowed to be in the library at these ideal times and are not able to use the resources that are set in place for student access.

I thought nothing of it at the time because I assumed  that we were just not allowed to use the library that particular day or on certain designated days. I recently found out, however, that use of the computers is limited to virtual school students, EOC testers, and FCAT testers only. The library in general is not open to student populace before school, during lunch, or after school. This year Mrs. Madruga has had more virtual school students occupying the library than any other year in the past. There are about 80+ students in one class period in particular, that is the largest of all the others with the occasional help she receives from Mrs. Davis. Every so often, the teachers from the virtual classes make routine visits, but other than those few instances, these 80 students are under the direct supervision of Mrs. Madruga. There are about 76 computers in this library, so some students are required to bring their own tablets to use for the online classes. To make matters worse,  more and more students have signed up to take online classes. 

Periodically, Mrs. Madruga lets students come in to finish tests, even though she hardly has any room which is very generous considering the situation. This reporter was informed by Mrs. Madruga that the library could be available during regular hours, as in the past; however, only about once or twice a week with funding.

The accessibility of the library is essential to a student’s success because it provides a quiet place to study and do homework.  For example, while waiting for a club meeting to begin at 3:00 p.m., a student can quickly get a bit of homework done in the meantime.  The library is the perfect place to do so in a quiet environment. What better place than a room with walls and shelves lined with books to find some information the old-fashioned way? What better place than a room filled with computers, a vast database of information at your fingertips? I don’t see any reason why a service club cannot be placed a few times a week in the library to keep everything in order.  At the same time, volunteers could receive community service hours.  If students feel that these resources are opened to them, they may want to use them as often as they can to get ahead. 


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