“We were in the process of starting [the renovation]. And then [Dr. Sean Doherty] said, I’m retiring. And I was like, no, please don’t leave this hanging again,” said Lauran DeRigne, the library media specialist. The CHS library is a favorite destination for students. People flock there for a space to study, relax with friends, or read a great book.
But, the library is in desperate need of an update. Areas once for students to access the internet limit ability to collaborate. Additionally, The non-fiction shelves move like an Indiana Jones trap, scaring away potential readers.
Luckily, this summer may see the library receive a much-needed facelift.
The process officially began before the pandemic when Dr. Doherty was superintendent. After his retirement, CHS librarians saw their opportunity for a renovation slipping away yet again as it did over the pandemic. “[Dr. Doherty] filled in Dr. Patel when he was about to leave and said, ‘Look, we’ve promised that this is going to happen.’” said DeRegine.
And, Dr. Nisha Patel has continued on this path for the necessary updates.
As classrooms were redone and new wings were added to the school, the library has been the only room left untouched for more than thirty years. “And it’s a high use space… If you’re talking about changing the classroom for 100 kids as opposed to changing the library for everyone then it makes sense that that needs to be done,” said DeRegine.
And it’s a high use space… If you’re talking about changing the classroom for 100 kids as opposed to changing the library for everyone then it makes sense that that needs to be done.”
— Lauran DeRigne
But, necessity has not sped up the changes. The most recent renovations occurred around 1990 as a response to the increasing need for computer labs. With the speed of technology’s advancements, the library quickly fell behind, ignored until 2019.
Talks began before the pandemic on the possibilities for the renovation. The current space’s foundation will not be adjusted as the area is large in comparison to comparable schools. Additionally, the budget does not allow for structural alterations. The comfortable environment will remain with the largest effort going into improving the usability of the room.
Renovations are predicted to include updates to outdated furniture and old carpets. The uncomfortable wooden chairs will also be replaced to the delight of students. “The chairs are large so they’re comfortable in that way, but they are also fully wooden so that makes them uncomfortable if you sit there for long periods of time,” said Nicholas Sheppard a sophomore at CHS. The largest change will be to the flow of the space. Increased variety will be offered so individuals, small groups, and even classes hoping to work together for a day can use the areas within the library simultaneously.
These renovations will fulfill the needs outlined by the student body. “[Students] definitely want smaller workspaces so they can come in with two or three friends and work,” said DeRegine. Other desires include different seating options such as comfortable and study dedicated.
Students would like to improve the space’s use outside of studying purposes. A spot to relax and play games and increased book access are key components. Finally, everyone in the room agrees that the lighting needs to improve.
“[The architects] really have been listening to what we’ve said we needed,” said DeRegine. In addition to listening to requests from the student body, focus groups have been formed to review the plans and offer a student perspective. “A variety of students from different grades [have shared] how they’ve used the space [and] how it hasn’t worked,” said DeRegine. Teachers and library staff have also contributed to the discussions.
So, what can you expect when you walk into the building next year? “Definitely, like moving the shelving so it’s more central [and] students feel like they’re surrounded by books,” said DeRegine. Additionally, expect a variety of areas for all library needs. Individuals, small groups, and classes will be able to work and collaborate. Finally, the technology in the space will jump forward thirty years for announcements and opportunities for virtual author visits.
Early next year, expect a modern update to the CHS library.
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