The MHS Library Gains a New Purpose


Caitlyn Carpenter

The MHS Library is one of many places at MHS that no longer are the hubs they used to be.

Taylor Ferrarone, Features Assistant Page Editor

Every MHS student has been in the library for some reason or another. Teachers require book sources as a project requirement or need a paper printed out. Others visit during a free period, or as part of a school event. Lessons from the librarians showing students how to navigate the library database have been a staple in classrooms for years. While few parts of MHS entered the 2020-2021 school year unaltered, the library has undergone some of the greatest changes. 

The 2020-2021 school year has certainly transcended the traditional use of the library. The library acts not only as a study hall for free periods and those with athletic option, but as a backup location when substitutes are spread thin. “Even though the desks were spaced out, the library still felt busy,” said Marissa Lazarus (‘22), who attended several classes from the library. She also noted that the energy of the library was still calm enough to allow her to attend Zoom class with few distractions. Some students have worried about the risk of large groups of students getting exposed to COVID-19 via library study halls. “When it is very crowded, I get concerned with possibly getting exposed [to COVID-19] again,” said Brennan Vincent (‘21). Though Vincent and others have questioned the practicality and safety of the situation, she otherwise agreed that the space has provided a quiet space for her to be more productive.  Kira Walter (‘22), who took her athletic option study hall in the library, admitted that while the space could pose a risk to expose students across several grades to COVID-19, “students tend to distance themselves naturally and there are a lot of seating options.” Indeed, the traditional communal tables of the library have been replaced with desks the standard six feet apart, which can seat large portions of the student body due to the large space. 

To Tina Pantginis, head librarian, one of the most difficult things to adapt to has been the reduced number of students in the library. With few students in the building and in the library, the ebb and flow of students through the library decreased, and the librarians have missed the “energy and heartbeat” of the space that comes from their presence. While it has been “surreal” to see the library turned into a study hall, Pantginis applauds the cooperation she has received from the students. “They have been amazing,” says Pantginis. “We are asking them to use the space in such a different way, and they totally understand the need to follow the protocols.” 

One of the biggest changes to the library this year has been students’ inability to physically browse the endless shelves of books due to COVID-19 restrictions. While the database isn’t open for browsing this year, the library is still circulating books! By using the new MHS Reads app (, students can submit requests for physical books and browse the selection virtually. Ms. Vetere, the library clerk, collects the books in bags for contact-free delivery, which is carried out by ‘runners’ from the Transition Academy. “Returned books do have to be quarantined,” Pantginis explained, elaborating on the new system. 

MHS students can also access the library’s robust collection of ebooks and audiobooks on Sora, and request new additions via the MHS Reads app. Through the app, “we can make requests available the same day!” Pantginis commented. In addition to the online database, a new feature on the library page includes a ‘carousel’ of magazines and other online publications which students can freely access. Pantginis commended the work of Miyuki Oblitas (‘23), in helping the library staff update the app’s list of suggested titles each week. MHS students can help develop the app too by requesting titles, browsing, and recommending titles on the platform.

“There is no way I could have pulled this off alone,” Pantginis remarked, citing the aid she has received from students and teachers alike in being integral pieces to the library’s daily operation. Through Mr. Sammartano’s aid with the new app, the library staff’s tireless work in keeping the space running as a study hall and book repository, the aid of Ms. Petersen and her students in the delivery and recovery of books, and countless more volunteers, the space is an engine with dozens of moving pieces. While Pantginis and her staff have modestly downplayed their achievements this year, their work has not gone unappreciated. Even with the occasionally inflated number of students in the library, the staff has been extremely patient and accommodating under the circumstances they are facing, and the student body has benefited greatly from their hard work. So next time you see Ms. Pantginis or Ms. Vetere at the circulation desk, know that their work has continued to bring a sense of stability to MHS.