The new freshman library sits at the core of 22 Tappan



Librarian Maura McGill puts great care into how she organizes books for the freshman library, with fiction books at the front to more easily recommend them to students. The new library at 22 Tappan’s catalogue mostly consists of books from the old OLS library, but new ones will soon help fill out the many new shelves.

A modern glass-paneled library hovering just overhead greets anyone who enters the new freshman building. This isn’t the setting of some futuristic novel. Rather, it is the reality of the new library at 22 Tappan.

The freshman library has left the shell of the old OLS basement behind and has relocated into a beautifully modern space that sits at the center of the freshman building. Though there are still some issues to be solved, the new library is a vast improvement from its OLS predecessor.

Maura McGill, the librarian of the new library, was previously the librarian at OLS. McGill said that the new library, unlike the OLS library, is very easily seen, which allows for more students to visit.

“The visibility is huge, because as soon as you walk in the front door you can see the library. At OLS, unless you just happened to have a physics class or maybe a math class down there, there was no reason for you to ever go in the basement,” McGill said. “Every year, there was a big effort just to get kids down there so they would know how to find it.”

The freshman building’s library is also connected to a quiet study room called the “library classroom.” According to Andrew Jonic, the project architect who designed the library, the high school wanted the library to use this room, but they also wanted it to be able to be split from the library and function as a classroom. The solution, Jonic said, was to design a large, sliding barn door that allowed the two rooms to be joined or separated at will.

Jonic said that the library, including the library classroom, is 2,300 square feet and that the library’s location was chosen before the library’s features, which were designed between 2018 and 2019. Jonic said the “abundant natural light” makes the library a place where students want to work, and that the low bookshelves and singular open space allow librarians to oversee the library from the circulation desk.

McGill said that the librarians were able to have a say in certain parts of the library, such as there being an office and a space with a copy machine and printer for students. However, McGill also said the librarians didn’t have any say in the furniture and that it could have been better.

“Hopefully we’ll be getting something more flexible that different size groups can use because we really want the library to be a flexible space for small groups, larger classes and individuals,” McGill said.

While McGill did not control the design of the bookshelves, she does control what books go on them. McGill said she is working on balancing out the library’s collection.

“Our nonfiction section is pretty small, so I’m trying to get a lot more nonfiction books, like research for the WHISP program, but also just popular nonfiction: narratives, fun science books, the ‘what ifs’ and stuff like that,” McGill said.

Freshman Lily Tracey said, unlike the OLS library, the library of the new freshman building has lots of natural light.

“Because OLS was in a basement, there wasn’t any natural light, so you couldn’t really see anything. The lights were also very bad,” Tracey said. “This is much more inviting.”

While McGill prefers the new library a lot more, she said the OLS community made the library there special despite the challenges.

“When I walked into that library it was really in the basement, dark, concrete blocks. But, I put up a mural on one wall and I had all these plants, and then the books and the students brought it to life. We created a pretty nice space out of a basement,” McGill said.

Although she and the students found a way to make the most of the OLS library, McGill loves that the new library is fully integrated with the rest of the school.

“I love being right here and having all the English teachers so close. The way this building is set up, it’s so easy to run upstairs even to the top floor to see a physics teacher,” McGill said.