Underutilization a Concern for Library, Officials Say
And students are less likely to use it with the current pass system in place.
The board of education is still focusing attention on making changes to the library at the Bridgewater-Raritan High School—and the biggest concern is underutilization.
According to facilities committee chairman Patrick Breslin, there has been concern in the past that the library is underutilized, and many high schools and community colleges are looking to redesign the interiors to make them more attractive to students.
"We are looking at the place to appeal to them to go to study," he said. "We have seen a number of plans on redesigning the layout and furniture."
Breslin said at the Oct. 9 board of education meeting that the committee would like to see one more proposal (it has already seen one), and for both vendors to provide multi-year plans for implementation of new systems.
"When you are talking about this kind of heavy usage, you are talking some big bucks, and we felt it may be a problem making this kind of investment in a one-time shot," he said.
In addition, Breslin said, the committee discussed the fact that library lighting is currently not good or conducive to use among students and staff.
"We will be investigating library levels, and we can talk to lighting engineers and architects about enhancing the lighting," he said.
At this point, in the library, the hours it is open are extended as much as can be with the current staff, Superintendent of Schools Michael Schilder said.
"We will have to look at having more staff if we have to extend the hours," he said. "We are also looking at the number of students. We don't want to go through the trouble and then have no one use it."
Suvin Song, a senior at the high school and one of the student representatives to the board of education, said she believes there will need to be a change in the system for allowing students to go to the library. Currently, she said, the pass system is too difficult.
With the recently put-in-place rules, Song said, students need to get a pass from a teacher in order to enter the library, including during lunch periods.
"During lunch after we eat, if we want to go to the library to catch up on reading, we can't just go," she said. "You have to sign in."
"One of the principals made it so it's more of a task to get in, and people aren't going to go to the trouble of getting a pass to go for the one period," she added. "Even if we get new furniture and lighting, it takes a lot of time and it's a hassle."
Schilder said he has heard this complaint from other students as well.
"We put that pass system in place because we had other problems, but given your input and everyone else's, we're investigating it," he said. "We have to make sure those who are there are there for the right reasons."
"We want to make the library a hub of learning," he added. "But if the pass system is disinviting, we have to come up with something else."