To limit the transmission of Covid-19 and accommodate day student needs for on-campus learning, Andover has assigned 360 study carrels in Samuel Phillips Hall and the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) to day students. According to Michael Barker, Director of Academy Research, Information, and Library Services, students must practice social distancing measures, wear masks and use disinfectant wipes to clean their carrels.
Barker said, “We set up nearly 360 carrels or small enclosures, each assigned to a particular day student so they have a place to study on campus as well as a place to put their things during the day. All carrels are set at least six feet apart, and students are asked to use their carrel to study, participate in Zoom classes and maintain physical distance while masked.”
Kris Aziabor ’22, a Day Student Mentor from Cohort 1, found that while the quiet environment of the OWHL helps him focus and work efficiently, he was initially discontent with the lack of freedom in choosing the carrel.
“Compared to when I work at home, I definitely think I [am] more productive at the library. I think last week when I went, my brother [and I] were maybe two of the only three people on that first floor. So it’s very quiet, which to be fair, it usually is. But it was just a nice place to work,” said Aziabor.
Aziabor continued, “But I think my initial thought was that I was disappointed at the fact that we could not choose which carrel we could access. Obviously, there are spots that are really popular in the library, but I still think they could have tried to, maybe through seniority or through another way of deciding, give choices to students.”
In terms of providing research or citation help for classes, Elizabeth Tompkins, Librarian of Research and Instructional Design, described how the OWHL uses online tools to stay connected with students. According to Tompkins, the digitalization of all print books and active use of online chatting allows equal access to all library features.
Tompkins wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “For research, we librarians have worked to make sure that all the print books students have used are now available electronically, or have an equivalent E-Book, topic-wise. We have updated OWHL Guides with online resources, and we encourage students to go to OWHL Answers on the library homepage to chat with a librarian for any research needs. We miss working with students in person, but we are always available to help one-on-one via chat, or if you’d like, via Zoom. We can help you find resources and save time. Regardless of Cohort, or day/boarding status, there is no difference in access to library resources.”
Somen Chakrabortti ’22, a remote student, attested to the librarians’ helpfulness in walking him through citation rules and research advice.
Chakrabortti said, “Given that I have not taken history for almost nine months, I forgot a lot of the Chicago citation rules and ways to effectively research what I wanted to. Luckily, a Zoom meeting with one of the librarians removed all confusion, and I was surprised by how well the OWHL office is still running virtually.”
Despite the measures taken by the library to accommodate the new online learning style, Shreya Bajaj ’23 noted the awkwardness of taking virtual classes in Sam Phil. Bajaj found that a potential solution could be dividing rooms according to friend groups as requested by the students.
“[Learning from the carrels is] definitely a lot less fun because I can’t choose who is in my room, so I can’t really be with my friends to study… One suggestion that the school could do that would make the entire carrel situation better would be to make it similar to dorm assignments, where all the tenth and 11th-grade day students would write down a list of people that they would like to have a carrel in the same room with,” said Bajaj.
Currently, librarians from the OWHL predict that the administration will continue to impose study area guidelines for the remainder of the term. However, Tompkins hopes that the OWHL might be able to ease some restrictions in the future.
“My sincere hope is that we will be able to relax the guidelines soon, but my expectation is that we will need to live with our adaptations for a while until we can move about freely without fear of spreading [Covid-19],” said Tompkins.