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The Talon

The Talon

The Ankeny High library

A place that offers more than just books
Hannah Howard
Infographic made by Hannah Howard using Canva

A sophomore wakes up to her alarm a little bit earlier than normal and makes sure her book is packed for the monthly Books and Bagels meeting. Later that day, the bell rings, and a group of juniors set down their bags, open up their Chromebooks, and begin discussing their history project. At the same time, a senior finds a comfortable chair to relax in and finish their new book. After the final bell has rung, two sophomores meet to practice their song for open mic night.

Whether it’s the peace of relaxing with a good book, the thrill of performing for a crowd, or the chaos of a group project, these can all be found in one place at Ankeny High School (AHS)- the school library. Typically, libraries serve the primary role of providing books. While that is still a key part of the AHS library, there are so many other ways students take advantage of the library every day.

“We try really hard to be a welcoming place,” teacher librarian Jenny Wirtz said. “We want it to be comfortable for everyone.” 

One of the most common ways AHS students use the library is during their open periods. Students who want a quiet space to study or read during this time are able to find that in the library. There is no shortage of comfortable seating, from the short chairs near the east windows to the red and yellow chairs by the fiction books. 

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“Usually, I go there [the yellow chairs] to study or to read,” senior Brenna Fast said. “I like to sit near the windows…I like to see outside [and] it’s quieter over there, away from all of the people.”

During those times, many groups of students take advantage of the library’s collaborative spaces. These include isolated tall tables that seat two people and the very popular open area of round tables that each seat anywhere from one to ten people. 

Both Wirtz and associate librarian Amy Purdy agreed that students should be able to have a quiet environment in the library if they so choose. However, it is also important that it is a comfortable space for group work and conversation. 

Sitting across the open space that has become one of the school’s primary hallways is the main desk. This is where Wirtz, Purdy, and associate librarian Jen Peterson spend most of their time, and it is a vital resource for many students. From students who need to check out or return books, to those who have broken technology, to those who simply want a good book recommendation, the librarians are there to help. 

When asked about their favorite part of the job, both Purdy and Wirtz mentioned the students and the connections they can create through things like book recommendations.

“I love matching kids with books,” Wirtz said.

The librarians not only create connections with individual students, but they also go out of their way to make the library the fun, comfortable environment it is.

“One thing I enjoy in here is [that] it’s always decorated for each season,” Purdy said.

While the library is currently in its winter state, featuring paper snowflakes hanging from the windows, a Grinch-faced Christmas, and other festive decorations spread around, that will change as the seasons go by. 

Some seasons will even have a fun event for students. Purdy noted that the March Madness themed book tournament, which occurs at the same time as the namesake basketball tournament, is one of the most popular and enjoyable events. Students can vote on books from various genres to advance to the next round and, eventually, compete for the title of champion.

One newer event that occurs much more frequently, however, is Hawk Time. Hawk Time is a daily 30-minute period where students get to pick where they spend their time, often making their choices based on one of two reasons- they need extra help with a certain teacher or class, or they simply want a place to relax and do a fun activity. The library’s Hawk Time sessions can fulfill both of these requirements, as they offer multiple sessions in one place: a study space, a quiet reading space, and a puzzle table. These sessions are one of the quickest to fill up when students make their selections every Monday, and many students often rush to get into them.

Both Wirtz and Purdy mentioned the puzzle table and the overall quiet nature of the space as the main reasons for students choosing to come for Hawk Time on a daily basis.

“We always say this is where the cool kids hang out,” Purdy remarked.

Finally, outside of daily life in the AHS library, there are many events and clubs that are either directly involved with the library or use it as their space to operate. Two of the most popular clubs are open mic night and Books and Bagels, a monthly morning book club.

“I love to talk about books… I really like hearing other people’s recommendations [at Books and Bagels],” Fast said.

Though she loves Books and Bagels as well, Wirtz mentioned how much she enjoys open mic night as a way for students to express talents that they may not get to show on a regular basis. 

“It’s just so fun to see somebody become a whole different person on that stage,” Wirtz said.

All in all, the library at AHS is a great place no matter what you are looking for. From the comfortable environment to the three amazing librarians who work there, it’s a resource that is endorsed by many, especially Wirtz herself. 

“I would just say, if you’ve never spent time in the library, give it a try… my door is always open,” Wirtz said.

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About the Contributor
Hannah Howard, Staff Reporter
Hannah Howard is a senior at Ankeny High School. She enjoys playing sports and participates in softball, basketball and track and field. She is also involved in National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. Hannah plans on studying data science at a four-year university.
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