The MG Library: A Safe Space for Students


The Mount Greylock Library – Photo Courtesy of Molly Sullivan

The environment in school can be a stressful place. However, there are few places in the building that are considered a safe space during the long lasting school days. Ever since the new building of Mount Greylock Regional School was finished in 2018, the library has turned into that special spot for the student body.

Five years ago, I started my journey at Mount Greylock, and ever since then, I have seen the library do nothing but blossom. From participating in TA positions for librarian Liza Barrett, spending break and lunch in this area, or taking online courses, students, especially upperclassmen, spend a lot of time enjoying the library experience. Barrett, our wonderful librarian, never fails to make sure everyone is comfortable through her organization, coloring walls, enormous amount of books, and support.

Prior to pursuing the role of becoming the Mount Greylock librarian, Barrett was an English teacher. “It is hard to say [which position] is better or worse but right now I like this position better because I was ready for a change. I absolutely love being the librarian and the tech person and the Williams Center at Mount Greylock person along with many other roles that I play.”

However, Barrett cherishes the time she spent in the classroom. “I would not trade anything for my 34 years in the classroom, it was exactly where I was meant to be, where I wanted to be. If I wanted to remain happy and loving my job, I needed to find a way to work with students but not take home the same amount of work.”

When I think about the library, the first few words that come to mind are welcoming and homey. Barrett describes the library as a “safe space” for all students who spend time in the environment. Many may assume that going from a teaching position to a librarian position is a struggle and major shift, but Barrett describes it as “incredibly exciting.” 

“If you had interviewed me ten years ago, I would have told you all the things that made teaching the absolute best job in the world.” However, she said, “putting the right book in the right kid’s hand at the right time, there’s just no better feeling than that.”

Walking into the library, students don’t only see the hundreds of books that fill the room. The library holds many comfortable blue chairs that students including myself enjoy relaxing in. Along with that, there is a whole bulletin board dedicated to coloring at any time of the day. Students are also summoned by the plenty of board games and puzzles. Plants and greenery too are scattered about in the space. 

A library is extremely more than just a room filled with books, which is proved in the Mount Greylock library. “You can change the way a student learns by what’s on the walls, the way you treat them when they enter the room, the way you treat them when they exit the room,” Barrett says. 

An interesting and intriguing take that Barrett has considered and studied was the climate of a room. “My entire career I have consciously tried to foster and establish a climate of comfort which allows learning. It’s conscious. I want people to feel at home in here and that involves not just seeing things but I’ve been very conscious about doing interactive things.” 

Barrett’s love and comfort that she puts into the library makes it a safe space for the students. “I’m not kidding when I say I love coming here everyday. Sure, everyone has a bad day here and there, but I mostly have good ones, and seeing [the library] full of students…nothing could make me happier.”