Morgan’s Mumbles: What High Schoolers Need in a Library, by Morgan Randall
Today we are excited to introduce you to a new, recurring teen contributor named Morgan Randall. Morgan just graduated from high school and will be sharing her thoughts about teens, libraries, and bringing the two of them together here on Wednesdays.
One of my fondest memories as a child is going to my town’s “public library” over the summer, and getting my first ever library card. I remember being so proud of it and feeling so empowered to be able to browse the shelves of the library choosing what I wanted to read, from what felt like endless options. I felt empowered by the freedom I had to educate myself with, what felt like, endless resources. Sadly, this memory wasn’t a longed live one. My town’s “public library”, was one of our high schools libraries which was opened to the public. This made it difficult to get to during the school year, as I had classes to attend when it was opened. Of course, I still had access to my school library, but in both middle and high school, we never had a time built into our schedule to go to the library. Which made it hard to access, since after school I was preoccupied with theatre and before school, it was always full of students talking and playing games.
One thing I had loved about the library growing up was the atmosphere, it was quiet but not because it was empty. It was quiet because everyone there had mutually agreed to focus on learning. I loved the environment of being surrounded by other people choosing to further their education, it felt magical as we were all there physically together but mentally we were all in different worlds with different lives. This was something that my library at school had lacked. In high school, my library had become more of a place where classes were watched if they didn’t have a sub. It was loud, and there were always people playing games, like Jenga (which is a great game but not exactly a quiet one).
While I do agree, there should be a space within schools for teenagers to play games together and hangout. I think by making this place your library, you remove the library as a resource and escape for those who find comfort in it. This past school year I was a senior in high school and one thing that was hard for me was never being able to find a quiet place to study or escape to. I feel like, and it may just be the idealist within me, this should have been a library. I wish I would have had a library to go to study for my classes, but also to be able to have an escape and a quiet place to just read.
Another thing I wish my library had was resources for me to research colleges, scholarships, and even application resources. Being the oldest child of my parents, I had to figure out a lot of application stuff alone and do all my research alone. It wasn’t that my parents refused to help, they were just equally as confused, and honestly, it led to more fights than it was worth. I wish that I had a library to access after school hours, that would provide resources for college applications, resume writing, portfolio creating, and help on writing college application essays.
I think not having access to these resources harmed me a lot in my application process as I tried to navigate college websites and applications. But I think limited resources are far deeper than just the lack of informative text that should be available. Many people around the world are censored on what they can read, in my small town there were books that are viewed as classics that I was never allowed to read in school because of content. I think not having access to a library that was not censored effected not only my resources but also my knowledge of the worlds as a whole and effected my cultural lens. Growing up in a small town the lack of perspectives made me feel limited and didn’t give me room to discover who I was and develop my own thoughts, however, I think uncensored reading allows for individuals to research into all different thought patterns and ideas to develop their own individual opinions on the world and life in general.
So as a recap, as a recent high school graduate, things I find vital that I lacked growing up include:
- A library that provides extended hours for students and those who need it.
- Library’s, and other spaces, for individuals to be able to study, read, and learn in peace.
- Resources within public and school libraries for college searching. Along with researching scholarships and resources on how to apply to these things.
- This also applies in the same sense for those wishing to enter the workforce, there should be resources to create resumes and other important things for job interviews.
- A public library, separate from the school, that allows for uncensored reading.
I think libraries are being used less and less not because they aren’t important, but because they lack the resources that they need to have or because they do not provide the same comfort and security as they should. Libraries should be able to be something that everyone has a fond memory of, and I think it is important to start reforming them into the resources they need to be.
Morgan Randall, Teen Contributor
Morgan recently graduated high school and is currently enrolled to attend college in the fall getting her BA in Theatre and Dance with an emphasis on Design and Technology. She loves theatre, writing, reading, and learning. But something that has always been important to her is being a voice for those who feel like they don’t have one, and being a catalyst for change in any way possible.
Filed under: Teen Voices
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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