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The Kovler Family Library Doors have (Almost) ReOpened

Juniors+Audrey+Shadle+and+Simon+Goldman+complete+their+history+homework+in+the+new+library.
Juniors Audrey Shadle and Simon Goldman complete their history homework in the new library.

Juniors Audrey Shadle and Simon Goldman complete their history homework in the new library.

Photo by Jenna Mansueto

Photo by Jenna Mansueto

Juniors Audrey Shadle and Simon Goldman complete their history homework in the new library.

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The smell of paint and dust lingers although students have already found their favorite nook or cranny, whether it be a spot in one of the mini-tunnels created in bookshelves or a seat in an ‘S’ shaped chair. Wires poke out of the wall like ivy while blue tiles shimmer in the sun. On August 31st, the library opened completely, though features like the “Teleport” and “Marker’s space” still a work in progress and the Parker community has already been utilizing the school’s latest project worth at least $5 million and spanning over six months.

“The Kovler Family Library is enriched with advanced technology that’s goal is to foster progressive education,” Middle and Upper School Librarian Annette Lesak said. It’s meant to be a useful tool for curriculum connections.” The library’s main purpose, Lesak notes, is to connect students to the outside world by means of technology and nature.

By tearing down interior walls, the school has increased the usable square footage of the library, in which you can now find both private study rooms and collaboration centers such as the Maker’s Space, Teleport, “Genius Hub,” and “Storytelling Theater,” all of which are new features waiting for students to take advantage of the library’s opportunities.

“I’m actually really excited to utilize the space in all sorts of different ways,” sophomore Celia Rattner said. “I don’t know so much about what exactly is going on, but it seems like something you won’t be able to find anywhere else.”  

The new environment in the library, Lesak said, is key to successful learning. “In the educational world, we are discovering that flexibility is really important,” Lesak said, “and customizing a student’s learning experience to change a space to accommodate a student or class is vital, so the possibilities are endless.”

Leaning over the field is an outdoor deck which, Lesak said, will be used in the future for the first grade’s community garden. First-grade teacher Beverley Greenberg said that as soon as they get permission, her first graders will head to the outdoor deck to draw and take notes, making observations from the new and exciting perspective.

In the right-hand corner of the library, a beige curtain hangs where construction workers can still be found slipping in and out of with different tools throughout the day. Behind this curtain lies the “Teleport,” a space with two large flat screens, ready for use by the end of October, where students can immerse themselves in whatever project they are working on. “Let’s say you are curious about Hurricane Harvey–on one screen you have Google Maps open, and on the other screen you are FaceTiming with a scientist or a meteorologist,” Lesak said. “It’s meant to be connecting students to the outside world, experts on the outside, or just side by side group projects.”

These days, Middle and Upper Schools students can be found in study rooms or drawing out math equations on walls. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the library this year, and what I’ve been utilizing the most have been the books and the hangout spaces,” sixth-grader Arjun Kalra said. “I can’t really see myself using the Maker’s Space or the Skype room unless asked to for a class.” Kalra also said that the noise from construction is disruptive when studying.

Near what used to be the computer lab and the children’s library is the Maker’s Space. Of all the features in the new library, Lesak said the Maker’s Space is her favorite. Here, where unopened boxes and waiting to be put together parts of machinery lay, there will be 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines, and movable walls covered in whiteboard material so that an entire class can have each student work on a piece of the wall. Now, however, only a white curtain takes the place of the unbuilt doors. “We have a really fancy set-up right now, “Lesak said. “It’s incredible. The best thing I’ve ever seen in a school library.”

The walls surrounding the Maker’s Space are not the only part of the library where you can draw. There are rows of tables and entire walls covered in whiteboard material meant for students to write out their thought process and collaborate.

Students will not be found munching on pepperoni pizza or sipping smoothies anywhere near these tables or the library in general, however, as the library staff has decided that after previous trials, and the discovery of cockroaches by some abandoned sushi, no food or drink will be allowed in the library.

While some Upper School students are upset by this rule, junior Grace Chang is not. “While a lot of people may be upset,” Chang said, “we all need to realize we just invested so much in this space, and so why would we want to ruin it with yogurt stains or cockroaches?”

The library has not been significantly redone for over 20 years when technology was just emerging in libraries. “It’s a beautiful space, and we want to preserve it for as long as we can because we aren’t going to redo the library anytime soon,” Lesak said. “This is it, and it’s pretty awesome.”

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