Photo by Hannah Ratcliffe ’22
Students cramming in time to prepare for midterms; friends booking rooms for last-minute study sessions; packed tables with endless amounts of worksheets and material. This is what the Westport Public Library (WPL) typically looks like during late January as the first semester ends.
However, the library looks a little different this year, as COVID-19 has affected the way the building functions. The WPL is currently open by appointment but does not allow extended visits or study halls in the building anymore.
However, the library is offering a virtual study hall, occurring every Wednesday from 4-5:30 p.m. Held over Zoom, these adapted study halls aim to provide students with a resource that allows them to connect with their peers while still focusing on academics and studying.
“Though access to the building is limited right now, we are still able to provide all of our patrons, including teens, with a variety of library services, programs, and resources,” Matt Geeza, Teen Services Librarian, said.
Talia Perkins ’22, who recently got involved on the new Teen Advisory Board after receiving an email from Geeza looking for volunteers, explains how the session will function.
“The study halls will put a bunch of students into a zoom in which they can hear other keyboards clicking, stay accountable by typing what assignments they want to accomplish into the chat, and even going into breakout rooms if they want academic advice from another student,” Perkins said.
After a year of unexpected changes, students are grateful for the opportunity to study with their friends once again.
“As someone who used to go to the library with my friend often, I think these virtual study halls are super useful and convenient,” Sarah Thomas ’22 said. “I can remain safe and social distanced while still getting to work on school assignments with friends.”
The virtual study halls are free of charge and registration is required through the WPL’s website.
“Our hope is that virtual study hall is a way to gather with friends and peers even though, right now, the Library is not available for in-person study,” Geeza said. “We are doing our best to be flexible in an ever-changing situation and find creative ways to ensure that we meet the needs of our community.”