What Happened to the MBHS Library?

By Claire Wilson 

February 21, 2024

This semester, the new library finally opened in the 400 hall. As an avid library user, I thought this would be a bigger deal, but it’s almost like nothing is different. When you walk into the library, it’s usually close to empty. What used to be a relatively popular hangout spot has become desolate. Do students just not care about the library anymore?

By the end of 2019, librarian Ms. Hagwood had completely moved out of the old library into a temporary room in the 900 hall. For nearly four years, this converted locker room served as our school library as delay after delay pushed back the opening of the 400 hall library. According to Hagwood, “400 and 500 buildings and the new library were supposed to be earlier on the list than the theater and the cafeteria,” but it’s unclear why these buildings were prioritized over the 400 and 500 halls. 

Although the new library is certainly an upgrade from the dingy locker room, I’m not sure that it’s an upgrade from the old one, which was between 3 and 4 times bigger than the new space. Hagwood says, “there were a lot more private spaces for students and staff who needed a smaller space to do a small study group, to film things, to do interviews, and things like that.” Although the old library was much more spacious, it was built in the late 1950s and was in desperate need of a makeover. When it rained, pieces of ceiling would fall out, Ms. Hagwood explains, and sometimes a stray feather would fall out from the rusted vents. 

"Although Ms. Hagwood has done an excellent job in sprucing the place up, she remains restricted to the arbitrary rules that seem counter to a creative and vibrant school environment"

Although the new library is much safer and cleaner, it takes an almost unfriendly approach, following the sterile feel that can be found in all the new buildings. In the new classrooms, teachers are prohibited from putting anything on the walls (except for the single push pin wall) to avoid damaging them, so instead of colorful posters and student work displays, the new classrooms are hygienically white and grey. Unfortunately, the new library is not exempt from these rules, and although Ms. Hagwood has done an excellent job in sprucing the place up, she remains restricted to the arbitrary rules that seem counter to a creative and vibrant school environment. 

These days, it seems that what was once the social and academic hub of our school has gone quiet. “We had a lot of classes during lunch time,” reminisces Hagwood, “sewing, knitting, crocheting… We had brown bag lunchtime concerts and a lot of our performers would come in and do a scene from their play and have little teasers. We had guitar lessons, mandolin lessons, people came from band and choir and did small performances and then of course, garage bands would come in and do performances. It worked really well and I loved it and I think the kids did too.” Most likely, Covid disrupted these traditions and students have simply forgotten about them. Even the simple act of checking out a library book seems to have been forgotten.

Despite this, Ms. Hagwood remains optimistic and is grateful for the new space. “I think they did a really great job providing a space,” she says, predicting that as students get used to the space, they will start to use it more. She says that libraries are important for “not only traditional literacy, but also cultural literacy, learning how, in a safe space, to learn how to get along with people.”

The book room is a work in progress