The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

One year later: Where’s the library now?

Library remains safe space for all as new resources are added
Helen Beebe
Librarian Kaitlyn Carpenter describes her experience moving into the new library and having to carry thousands of books in boxes as large as her body. Carpenter described the boxes as “cadaver-sized.”

It’s been one school year since librarian Kaitlyn Carpenter opened the first box of books. The library, which began as a mobile book cart making its way around the school, has since expanded to house 10,000 books and offer resources that make the space one of a kind.
When the library opened in January, Carpenter innovated new sections of the library to further strengthen the school community. One of them being The Maker Space, where students can participate in daily crafts. Carpenter also plans fun activities with themes like Tech Tip Tuesdays and Wellness Wednesdays for every day of the school week there. Students also have access to the study rooms, which give them a quiet place to complete their work.

Students polled about how their time is spent in the library in the week of September 14, 2023. (Sophia Li)

“I love getting books in kids’ hands, but that is only a third of what my job entails,” Carpenter said. “I’m trying to incorporate more ways to support our teachers and have our students learn in the library so that we’re not just the place that houses the books, but [also] the place to learn and try new things.”
Carpenter researches every new book before adding it to the library. One of her priorities this year is to make the library inclusive to all students, so she aims to expand its spectrum of books beyond just one language and age levels.
“One of the goals that I really want to accomplish that is still in progress is to cultivate more of a foreign language library,” Carpenter said. “We were very lucky that through DonorsChoose we got about 100 or so brand new Spanish titles, but they were all current YA titles.”

Freshmen Isabella Ong and Victoria Wang choose to eat lunch at the library because it’s quieter and has better seats. “We run here everyday; it’s our regular spot,” Ong said. (Sophia Li)

Carpenter provides all students with equal access to every library resource. Posted on the front corner of the Maker Space is a Library Bill of Rights. The document, which was created by the American Library Association back in the ‘80s, states that every student has the “right to read and the right to certain information.”
“The library is all about access to all, and when you take the library away, it’s not just the books that [you’re taking away], it’s also the programs and the instructional partnership,” Carpenter said. “It’s all those things that add to a library.”
Carpenter also hopes to get the school involved in the library’s various activities and events. She sets up projects in the Maker Space and invites classes and clubs to participate in hands-on activities.
“I’m trying to do more this year to collaborate with clubs so that their students have more ownership of the library, and I try and I hope that every student who walks in here feels welcomed,” Carpenter said. “If people haven’t come to the library, hopefully they will.”

Sophomore Julian Escalona (left) and friends enjoy lunch everyday at their regular spot in the lobby area of the library. “We were friends with the seniors that ate here before, and when they left we took over their spot,” Escalona said. (Sophia Li)

Some familiar faces have become regulars. Carpenter remembers the different groups and where they usually go: some come into the Maker Space playing board games and making buttons, some are there to socialize in the front lobby, some grab five graphic novels and sit and read, some sit in the couches in the back and chat.
“Last year when it was first built, we started hanging out here and now it’s just become our spot,” senior Francesco Umbertelli said.
Umbertelli sits in a quadrant of chairs with his two friends near the library’s front desk. Looking to escape the chaos of Main Street, up to 200 students come in during Cardinal Hour a day.

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“I like how welcoming it is,” senior Kyla Clarke said. “It’s quiet and it’s easier to socialize here without being in trouble for just standing somewhere.”

Students polled about how often they visit the library in the week of September 14, 2023. (Sophia Li)

Outside of Cardinal Hour, Carpenter’s tasks vary from signing students in, organizing new books and lunch duty to helping out with various classes’ lessons, such as walking English I classes through a crime scene investigation and making artifacts for US History students’ final project.
“You’re dealing with different people, different personalities every day, and there’s a lot of joy in that,” Carpenter said. “It’s important to me for people to know what a library program can bring to a school. It’s not just that ours is nice because we’re in a nicer neighborhood or because we’re a good school in comparison to others. It can be the same at any school if you provide the resources.”

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  • H

    Hanh NguyenNov 6, 2023 at 12:16 pm

    I love this story about the library! I always come here for quiet time.

  • S

    Smruthi GarlapatiNov 4, 2023 at 10:13 pm

    Great story! I love sitting in the library when I need a quiet place to work! Very interesting seeing the progress from last year

  • J

    Joy XiaNov 3, 2023 at 9:22 pm

    Super informative! Ms. Carpenter defintely works hard to manage all of this.

  • B

    Blen AbebeNov 3, 2023 at 7:54 pm

    Such a great update story! Great pictures!!

  • M

    McKenzie LeNov 2, 2023 at 9:40 pm

    The library is one of my favorite places to be in school! Great story!!