All I want for Christmas is predictable media center closing times

By Jocie Mintz

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We’ve all been there. It’s your period lunch, your Lang essay is next period, and all you have on the page is a flimsy work cited page. It’s time to grind. You run to the library, looking for a safe refuge — a critical computer on which to craft your paper — only to find that horrible sign stopping you: “Media Center Closed During Lunch.”

Abrupt and unpredictable media center closings are a nuisance at best and a disruption to our education at worst. Whether we need to do homework, study for a test, or work on assignments that need computer access, the library is the place to get schoolwork done. It’s a hindrance when the media center closes its doors without sufficient prior notification because students lose out on valuable quiet work time, and because the unexpected closings can throw off our already busy schedules. Of course, most closings are necessary, whether it’s for specific lessons, guest speakers or other special events; it would just be beneficial to notify us further in advance.

To fix this problem, the media specialists should publish a weekly schedule of lunchtime closings every Monday. Unanticipated closings often catch us off guard, and the last thing that Whitman students need is more stress.

In an informal Black & White survey of 75 Whitman students, almost all expressed irritation with media center closings, with 42 saying they were “extremely” frustrated. Thirty-nine of these students agreed that they would regularly read a media center schedule. Often, students plan ahead of time when they work in the media center, and unpredictable closures can interrupt their schedules. Providing a calendar of closings would allow students to more effectively plan ahead — and help them avoid feeling overwhelmed after an unexpected closing. In fact, planning ahead is frequently connected to lower anxiety levels and higher academic performance.

Additionally, knowing closing schedules in advance would increase trust between the student body and faculty. In a way, this is similar to irregular bell schedules: staff members are responsible for informing us about unusual bell schedules so we know what classes we have next. Informing students about changes in the media hours, just like bell hours, will keep us informed and ready to work around any inconveniences. 

Of course, there are other places to do our work like the writing center or classrooms, but the media center is important. It has all that we need to complete our schoolwork in one place. It’s a quiet environment perfectly tailored for our academic needs, and frankly, more students do work there than in other spaces. At a given lunch, over 70 students work in the media center, using computers other resources. The writing center has fewer than 10 computers and even fewer students working there. Students will also avoid working in a classroom whenever they can because, many claim, it is awkward to be almost one-on-one with a teacher. 

It’s high school. We’re overstressed, overworked and sometimes we need a quiet place to work. The media center is an escape from the frenzy of the school day where we can work for ourselves. Publishing these schedules a the beginning of the week would help ensure that students can use every opportunity they have to get ahead in their academics. Let’s get that paper written, get that research done and get those closing schedules posted.