Need a break from the chaotic happenings of school? Librarians Nic Netzel and Peggy Kays welcome students to the library, opening at 7 AM every morning and 8 AM on late start days. The library provides an amiable space where students are able to focus on studying, meet their friends for a last minute cram session, or explore the library’s immense catalog of literary resources. To find out more, I talked to Mr. Netzel and asked him about the various amenities offered by the library.
The most recent and impactful innovation the library has implemented is the Book Bank. Inspired by the ideas proposed in Megan Shannon’s student council campaign last year, the Book Bank provides an opportunity for students to trade-in the books they required in their English class last year, for those which they will need this year. Mr. Netzel explains that, “In a perfect world, you come in as a ninth grader and some senior who’s leaving has left some good karma. Hopefully, you continue to pass the karma on.”
The library receives new titles roughly once every month. Just two weeks ago, Mr. Netzel ordered at least thirty new titles, including books about Polynesian history, Killing Poetry: Blackness and The Making of Slam and Spoken Word Communities, and The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. “We always have new things in terms of new books and materials. I ordered new fiction titles that are all ‘best of 2017’ books.”
When asked for book recommendations, Mr. Netzel had a hard time choosing only one. “Librarians like books, but we recognize that not everyone likes the same books that we like, so you should read what you want to read and not listen to me too much.” Mr. Netzel’s top recommendation, however, is a fantasy novel titled The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which is developing into a movie and TV series. Mr. Netzel also enjoys Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, a nonfiction book about social psychology. “Any student writing an argumentative or persuasive paper—like thesis—should read it.”
“I like whatever book is in front of me,” Ms. Kays jokes. When it comes to helping someone find a book, she often hesitates to give her own opinion. “We always talk to whoever’s asking about a book about what they’ve read before, what they liked, and what they’re looking for, and we go from there.” Despite the indecision of choosing a library book, Mr. Netzel and Ms. Kays are simply glad to hear that people are interested in reading.
Apart from books, Mr. Netzel helps inform students on the library’s new and improved website, which includes features that allow for easier website editing and improved catalog search results. Additionally, the new website includes informational guides for books that students will be reading over the summer and in class: “It’s designed to add pages of specific resource guides for courses or assignments. If a teacher comes in and says ‘my ninth graders are reading Ready Player One,’ I can make a specific page of all sorts of stuff for Ready Player One.”
Mr. Netzel and Ms. Kays shared their library pet peeves: Ms. Kays dislikes unnecessary shouting across the room in the library, Mr Netzel dislikes overhearing students brag about their lack of using the library, “It’s fine if you don’t [use the library], but it’s not something to be proud of. That’s just kind of rude.”
Eating and drinking are no-gos for the school library. Rules concerning drinks, however, have changed. The water-only rule has become more flexible, noticing that drinks were constantly snuck in purposely or brought in absentmindedly. “People would, in the morning, sneak in with their coffee, their colorful drink bottles, Dutch Bros. So people would come in with those and hide them under the table. What happens when you do that? That’s how things get spilled.” Mr. Netzel and Ms. Kays eventually agreed on allowing all beverages into the library, as long as they do not get spilled. Spilled drinks will result in detention.
On a more serious and sinister note, the library contains books as well as it does mysteries. Ms. Kays tells me that after closing time, students and staff have witnessed apparitions. Witnesses reported hearing noises of a small child scampering and books falling off of shelves, as well as a woman who was supposedly transparent. These stories are eerie but hopefully will not scare off students from the library.
Mr. Netzel’s main hope for the library is that people will use the library space effectively and interact with him and Ms. Kays when in need of help, whether they need to find a book or have any questions that need answering. “Beyond that, I hope that people get value out of coming to the library due to the services that the librarians provide and the materials. My hope is that every student chooses to use the library during their career at Central Catholic, not just because they were sent here.”