SPS Today: Proactive Library

More Than Just a Study Space

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There are plenty of reasons for SPS community members to visit Ohrstrom Library, including the impressive book and media collection, the warm, engaging staff, and the calming views of Lower School Pond. The staff at Ohrstrom has launched a number of new initiatives in recent months, reaffirming the library as much more than just a study space. By taking a few laps through the building during peak study times, Karla Kittler, head of programming and user experience, identified an area of need for SPS students. “We could see the energy but we could also see the stresses and anxiety,” says Kittler. “So we asked ourselves how we could help.”

By strategically shifting some of the books on the upper level of the building, Kittler was able to create an oasis of sorts, complete with mood lighting, comfy chairs, and a variety of wellness resources. Teaming with Athletic Facilities Coordinator Michelle Rogers and Nutritionist Erica Mumford, Kittler rounded out the space with physical therapy equipment and materials on mindfulness, diet, and wellbeing. A first-time appearance by the Ohrstrom staff at the School’s annual wellness fair helped draw attention to the new program, and students now frequent the homey space within the second-floor stacks.

For a school that perpetually balances tradition with innovation, look no further than the first floor of Ohrstrom to see a perfect example. There you will find two turntables, a collection of more than 700 vinyl records dating back to the 1960s, and wireless headphones for listening. When WSPS moved from Memorial Hall to the Friedman Community Center, the station’s vast record collection was homeless until archivist David Levesque agreed to adopt and catalogue it. “We thought if we just stored it, no one was ever going to use it,” says Levesque, “so we decided to share it with the community.” Library visitors are encouraged to have a listen, especially alumni who contributed to the eclectic collection.

Meanwhile, the library liaison program, brainchild of Library Director Sarah Ludwig, began last year in an effort to connect specific departments with Ohrstrom’s vast resources. Each member of the library staff is assigned to an SPS department, including Humanities and Science, but also Food Services and beyond. This involves facetime with staff members, and even book delivery service to hourly employees who would otherwise not be able to visit Ohrstrom during the workday. “We are Millville’s Library,” confirms Ludwig. “Of course we are for the students, but this initiative has been integral in reaching groups of people we weren’t reaching before.” Ludwig’s pipe dream for this program? A golf cart specially outfitted as the SPS bookmobile.

For most of Ohrstrom’s history, access to the SPS archives was by appointment only. Increasing student interest and regular class attendance gave David Levesque an idea; open archive hours during which he can help interested community members discover the hidden gems of SPS. From photos and letters dating back to the early days of the School to a page from the Gutenberg Bible, archived items are now being enjoyed by a wider audience, enriching the sense of School history in the community.

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