The road to bringing a library to the high school
April 13, 2023
A relic of the past? WHS hopes to make books more available once again.
Walking through the halls of Westfield High School it’s easy to think it's the school that has everything: multiple gyms, fully functioning commercial kitchens, and a coffee shop; however, there is one vital piece of the puzzle missing: a library.
This wasn’t always the case. Before the high school was renovated, a library stood in the area where the learning center now stands. It was removed during construction to help control traffic during the passing period.
“The Rock Shop, Mimi’s Cafe, all of it was a library,” innovation specialist Mrs. Sarah Gibbs said. “ … [the library] evolved for sure before construction happened and became more of a hangout … but we always had books … shelves and shelves of books.”
The decision was made to prioritize an innovation space over a library. Mr. Joel Bruns, the Media Specialist at the time, headed the creation of the Idea Farm wanting to explore the idea of having a library that could help its community in different ways beyond books.
“The space was intended to be a library 2.0.” Bruns said. “[It was] able to accommodate a wide variety of purposes from large group instruction, maker-space, library, tutoring, small group spaces, etcetera. Libraries are becoming more agile these days and will continue to evolve as the needs of patrons evolve.”
Now the future of the library is in Mrs. Gibb’s hands and her main goal is to make the innovation lab into a space that can be used by students more frequently. She is also currently working on setting up a satellite system with the Westfield City Library where kids will be able to reserve books and have them delivered to them at school.
“I want to showcase student voices,” Gibbs said. “[At Westfield] we have so much innovation. We have that construction room, Project Lead the Way, so many cool science labs, but we’re missing that literacy piece.”
Gibbs is interested in getting as much student input on the space as possible to make it into a place many people can use and enjoy. When asked what she wanted to see in the new library, freshman Katie Bolduc had some ideas.
“More of a variety … a lot of the books we have to read in English class tend to be a lot of the same type of book and by a lot of the same type of author,” Bolduc said. “I want a lot of different genres and authors and cultures.”
Mrs. Gibbs is hoping to have the library up and running by the start of the next school year.
“[Libraries are] places where people come together and connect,” Gibbs said. “It's a protected space, a place where you can have some solitude, but can also connect with people and ideas you never would’ve otherwise. I think they've always been a place where I feel empowered to learn and grow.”