Library under construction

Zachary Brenner


Last week, significant construction began on the school’s library. The former quiet room and computer lab are being transformed into offices. With the expansion of the Mitchell Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) and its demand for more space, Jewish Studies offices will be moved into the library rooms. Having already lost study space and group workspaces in the past, the library’s change leaves students wondering whether the further decreased space will make the library’s atmosphere too chaotic. The obstreperousness that constantly fills the library requires continual “shushing” by the three librarians already, so this change to the setting is unsettling to both students and faculty.

Fortunately, a compromise has been reached between Mr. Gary Weisserman, Head of School, Dr. Kimberly Schwartz, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Mr. Rios, Head of Maintenance, the architect designing the new library spaces, and the librarians.

Ms. Christina McClendon, school librarian, expressed that “student support throughout this [process] has been overwhelmingly [good].”

It was this high level of student enthusiasm that encouraged the compromise for the library to be initiated. According to the new settlement, the former quiet room will be replaced with offices, but two new quiet rooms—one larger, one smaller—will be built in the library during Winter Break.

Architectural plans for library

Although the renovations take away significant workspace from the main library room, bookshelves have been removed to allow for three more tables, which will hopefully make up for the lost space.

Mr. David Kates, school librarian, said, “I appreciate the hard work of Mr. Rios, the project architect, Dr. Schwartz and others in creating spaces for quiet study and group work in the library.”

However, the question remains: why were students and faculty not involved in the conversation about the library remodeling decision?

Mr. Gary Shapiro, a Jewish studies teacher who can frequently be found working in the library, reacted to the news congruently with other faculty and students. Shapiro noted, “I was concerned about the process of how it was done. I always want as many people to be included in the discussion as possible, especially those most directly affected.”

Shapiro was optimistic after hearing the news of the compromise. However, the skepticism that many people at Milken feel concerns how the library will continue to function if the space continues to be extracted from.

Shapiro added, “My basic feeling is that the way the library is now, it needs more space, not less space. Even if they maintain the status quo, it’s not moving in that necessary direction of getting more space.”

Weisserman was unable to meet regarding the decision.

The new compromise has slightly allayed the students’ stress and anxiety. With two new quiet rooms and classes that took place in the computer lab successfully moving to other classrooms, the only way to tell if the construction is worthwhile is to keep an open mind and witness the modifications first-hand.