Library, the class, has been around at City and Country almost as long as the school itself. The focus of Library, reading for pleasure, is needed now more than ever. According to Todd Rosenthal, one of the Librarians, “It’s become more necessary, with more demands on kids attention, like video games, movies, it’s hard to find time to read.”
That is what C&C’s Library time is for. Sarah Webb and Todd Rosenthal, the schools' librarians, call Library's philosophy “enforced reading for pleasure,” or “mandatory reading for pleasure.” The idea behind it is to help the students at C&C become lifelong readers and choose the books they want to read. According to Todd this freedom of choice allows readers to “... find out what you like. You get to stay safe. You get to explore other genres, and that allows you to explore yourself as a person. We’ve worked really hard to preserve that.” Both Todd and Sarah expressed the desire for students to “have a rich and varied reading life,” and to “create a community of readers.” Meaning they want students to be able to talk about books with other students, but this also creates a sort of “Push and pull,” where although students are encouraged to read what they want to read, they also want to read what their friends are reading.
Conferences are another way Library helps develop students’ reading skills and develop a community of readers. Not only do conferences allow students to talk about the book they are reading with another person, according to Todd they are used to “[help students] go deeper into understanding and comprehending the books.” They are used to test students’ summarizing skills as well as their ability to recognize themes and character analyses. Another purpose of conferencing with students is to help students try to recognize the voice and opinion of the author, as well as help them to form their own opinion.
Another purpose of Library is to serve as a “Refuge from the school day,” as Todd put it. It is a time for students to be quiet and reflect on the day so far and helps students, “build the stamina to read silently for half an hour.” This time of relaxation seems to be appreciated by students. As both Elijah Boulware, XIIsS, and Tallulah Stallvik, XIIsP, are very grateful for Library’s existence. As Tallulah put it, “A lot of schools don't have Library, I’m very grateful for having Library. It’s a great chance to read what I want to.” As XIIs, they also like how calming Library is, especially considering that afterward, they have to work with the IVs. According to Elijah, “It’s amazing how many people say Library is their favorite part of the day. … I remember we had a visitor and they were amazed how quickly everyone sat down and shut up.” Both XIIs seemed to agree it is a great part of the C&C curriculum. However, not all students feel this way about Library. Chase Holness, XIIIs, expressed a dislike of the “forced reading time.” She felt that, “I only want to read, when I want to read. Sometimes I’m not in the right headspace to read.” Although she did clarify that part of it was that she did not have the right book to read.
Although the purpose and philosophy have stayed the same throughout the history of Library, other things have changed. Some of it has been cosmetic, like the space becoming larger and the shelves becoming taller. Others have been more substantial, like the cataloging of books. According to Todd, when he first came to City and Country “about one-third books weren't cataloged. I spent the first five years [at C&C] cataloging books. … There were piles of books everywhere, it was like an absent-minded professor, or like Harry Potter. It was cool but impossible to find anything.” Not only did Todd have to sort and catalog the books, he also had to establish Alexandria, the digital catalog site, and transition the school from a card catalog to a digital one. The purpose of Library has always been to read for pleasure and for research. Although with the current accessibility of the Internet, the amount of students who use the Library for research has declined. However, the card catalog still exists and one can check it out under the large book that is kept by the window.
Not only have the books been cataloged over the course of Todd and Sarah’s time, but there have also been more categorizations of books. Sarah says that when she first came “there was no young-adult section. It was all just [categorized under] Fiction.” Although the classification is always changing as the librarians talk about categorization amongst themselves, most of the time it is decided by how the book is recommended to the Library and the maturity level of the reader with some help from Common Sense Media.
However, before categorizing a new book, the Library has to get a new book. Sarah is the one in charge of finding new books and she does this in a variety of ways. Generally, Sarah looks for books that “reflect the taste and culture of the school,” but she will get recommendations from other librarians within a network of librarians in the New York area. She will also be on the lookout for new books by popular authors such as Rick Riordan. Another way is that Sarah will look at reviews of newer well-reviewed books and use that as a way to find new books.
Books also get pulled from the Library's collection and this happens if a book is dated or has not been read in a while. If longer series are not being read then all of the series except the first one or two books will be removed. On the other hand, if a series is too popular and the books cease to be in good condition they will get pulled out and new copies will be ordered.
Although Library in concept and ideas have remained largely the same, the Philosophy is needed more and more in this age of distraction, and the Library has adapted in its space to accommodate this new era.