Readers Find Haven in New Library

December 17, 2021

For all the reading that goes on at Eastside, and for all the collections of books that teachers lend and share, in more than 25 years, it has never had a dedicated library.

Until now.

During the last school year, while classes met on Zoom, Creative Writing teacher Tina Ehsanipour started a virtual library for students. At the time, Tina would send weekly emails reminding students of the Eastside Library website, a google slide with book recommendations and Featured Fiction Friday videos.

Now that Eastside has resumed in-person learning, so has the library.

Tina undertook the role of organizing the library because she wanted students to have access to books and get them excited about reading. Tina opens the library in Room 208 at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursday and Fridays, however, students can check out books even if she isn’t there. To check out a book, borrowers must fill out a check-out form, grab a bookmark and make sure to return the book with the bookmark or post-it note.

Not only does the library provide access to books, it also creates a place where students can socialize or do work.

“In the morning, when I need to finish my work, it’s a really nice quiet place for me to focus and get it done, ” said senior Joshua Nickings. “Plus it’s one of the only places on campus in the morning that has access to computers.”

Creative Writing Teacher Tina Ehsanipour helps freshman Jaime Delgado find a book in the library, located in Room 208.

In the past, students have borrowed books from teachers and staff, including World and U.S. History teacher Jasmine Kelly-Pierce, American Literature teacher Stacy Arevalo, Senior English teacher Amy Reilly and Vice Principal Helen Kim. These teachers and many others have made the resources available to students, but there has never been a dedicated space with a librarian and volunteer crew that are dedicated to generating activities and providing a space for students to study.

The current selection of books ranges from realistic fiction to fantasy. Tina said that she intentionally has diverse authors and ensures broad representation in culture, religion and sexuality. Some of the most popular authors among students include Angie Thomas and Tiffany Jackson. Tina mainly recommends books by student preference, but also recommends newer books like Blackout written by a collection of authors, Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, Ashley Woodfolk, Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson and Nic Stone. Tina’s favorite book is Legendborn by Tracy Deonn.

A group of 10 student volunteers has formed as the Library Crew, who help Tina plan and facilitate library-related school activities, such as Featured Fiction Friday. The library introduced a new event called “Eastside Reads”, an opportunity for students and staff to talk about the books they are reading by sending in a photo and caption of where you are in the book and a short reflection. Tina hopes this will become a monthly activity.

Additionally, Tina hopes to find ways for students to interact with authors, but activities depend on the Library Crew to initiate and encourage participation.

“My goal is helping other students see that reading can be super fun,” said Library Crew member freshman Falekihefehi “Fehi” Piutau. “If you’re reading a book you can relax, take some time to be in a different world instead of worrying about algebra, geometry and physics. Reading helps me de-stress a lot.”

Before transitioning to distance learning, The Eastside Panther staff was preparing an opinion column calling for the creation of a dedicated library space, pointing out that a library provides both concrete and abstract benefits. The columnist wrote that a library says, “This is a place to focus, be inspired, and think. Once you come here, you are a scholar.”

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