This Isn’t Your Mom’s School Library… Wait, It May Be Her School Library Memory

This month’s “Off The Shelf” column is written by Pam Raytick, librarian, Cornwall-Lebanon School District.

The Cedar Crest Middle School library stacks and student work area with the curved wall around the pit visible in the back right side of the photo. Photo courtesy of Cedar Crest Middle School Archives.

Brainstorming topics for this edition of This Isn’t Your Mom’s School Library, I fondly recalled the former library at Cedar Crest Middle School, which led to this month’s topic: school library memories.  I hope these take you back. 

This one brought a tear to my eye 

“I went to St. Mary’s (Our Lady of The Valley) on Willow Street. The library there was amazing. All carved, polished wood, which now reminds me of a scene from Harry Potter. I took out the same book for weeks on end, called Rosebud. When the primary school relocated to Lebanon Catholic, the librarian, Mrs. Pelepko, gave me the book to keep.” 

Memory contributed by Eileen Beasley

I can almost hear the bwump-bwump of the date stamper 

“I was a library aide at Northside Elementary School in Palmyra. This was in the 1976-1977 and 1977-1978 school years—fourth and fifth grades. I served for two years and gave up one recess period per week. The library was circular in shape! I also helped check books out when my class went to the library.”

Memory contributed by Angela Marr

Sometimes it is the space that we recall the most 

“I didn’t grow up here.  We rented and moved around the Chicago suburbs a bit, so I don’t really remember any one particular school library: they all seemed pretty much the same to me except the Alice Gustafson Elementary in Batavia, IL.  It had an area that overlooked a center garden.  Otherwise there wasn’t anything unique about any of the school libraries. My favorite library growing up was Geneva, IL.  They remodeled several times over the years, so things changed with each remodel.  The gerbils they had next to the checkout desk never changed. We loved watching them play and bringing in toilet paper and paper towel tubes for them to play with and chew up. This library just moved to a new location last month, so I don’t know everything that has changed, but I imagine a lot since I saw they have a hands on play area now.” 

Memory contributed by Theresa Petoskey

The reading pit at Cedar Crest Middle School, circa 1972. Photo courtesy of Cedar Crest Middle School Archives.

“I remember the old library at Cedar Crest Middle School.  We would rush through book selection and race into the pit, a literal pit, in the middle of the library!  There were couches and magazines and newspapers… but we just wanted to be the lucky ones to have space on one of the curved couches.  When I came back to Cedar Crest Middle School in 1989 as a teacher, I was super excited to see the pit.  Unfortunately, the pit was filled in.  You can still feel the outline of it through the carpeting in what is now the locker court… Actually it is an extra cafeteria to allow students to have masks off during their entire lunch period.  During the major renovation in 1995, the library was moved to the former cafeteria—my office is located where two of the food lines were located.” 

Memory contributed by the author

Our school libraries were also places to read

“I was beginning my senior year at Lebanon Catholic and looking forward to a great year.  Today students have many summer reading assignments but back in 1987-1988, we had one: Catch 22.  I had a close group of friends “attempting” to finish Catch 22. For some reason it was a tough read for us.  We tried…we really did.  But eventually someone had the idea of renting the video.  We rented the video and watched it together. Most of us were barely paying attention.  We ultimately decided to gather in the LC library and actually read the book and discuss it prior to the exam.” 

Memory contributed by Perlita Hains, Lebanon Catholic High School, Class of 1988

“My most vivid memory of my school libraries is of Cedar Crest High School.  I loved to go to the library every day to read the newspaper.  At that time the newspapers were on those big wooden sticks.  I would read the sports section of the Lancaster Intelligencer every day! I loved the recap of the Sixers or the Phillies.” 

Memory contributed by Michael Rohrbach, Cedar Crest High School, Class of 1996

Sometimes the librarian makes the memory 

“At Union Canal Elementary School, Mrs. Vranesic had us research a tall tale figure. We essentially made a biography for them, dressed up like the person, and presented it to the rest of the class. I was Paul Bunyan. I dressed in all tan with a blue vest and made a cardboard axe. We did this when Tall Tale was coming to theaters, so it was a fun tie in and got us engaged with the lesson.” 

Memory contributed by Travis Gundrum, Cedar Crest High School, Class of 2003

“My favorite library story: My best friend and I discovered the old yearbooks one day in our library. We became so engrossed in looking up our parents and teachers, and laughing so much at the outdated styles and quotes, that we didn’t realize how loud we were until the librarian had to come back and tell us to quiet down. A few years ago, now a librarian myself, I approached a group of teens in my library, huddled around the yearbooks and laughing so loudly, and did my best to keep a straight face as I asked them to take it down a notch.

My elementary and high school libraries were always my favorite places, and in high school we could get permission from the librarian to have our lunch periods in the library—I did that a lot!” 

Memory contributed by Michelle Hawk, Administrator of the Lebanon County Libraries