Week 44: The Library as a Sacred Space

On Monday, I attended the Educational Policy Committee meeting, which occurs monthly, and was established as a result of LCME preparation.  A major portion of this month’s agenda was a discussion surrounding lessons learned from the pandemic and what we might want to keep online curriculum-wise and what we might want to pay attention to regarding personal experiences. I was asked to share information regarding the Countway opening days. I repeated many of the stories and feedback I have shared with you during last week’s message and during today’s staff town hall meeting.

One of the PME faculty committee members, Dr. David Hirsh commented that the library is a sacred space—not in a religious sense per se—and that one of the lessons learned from the last few months has been that we need sacred spaces. His comment resonated with me and got me thinking a lot about sacred spaces. What is a sacred space? How is a library a sacred space? Sacred spaces are special; they are set apart in some way. They provide safety, comfort, and inspiration as well as a place to do work or play.  He and the EPCC recognized the need, especially now, for our Longwood area community to have sacred spaces. For some, that may be the woods or nature, or the gym; for others, it is the library. For our students, the library is a sacred space.

I have been walking around Countway in my roles as captain and ambassador these past few days and I must admit that I have been pleasantly surprised. The students coming in and using our space are following all protocols.   They are keeping their masks on, they are not sneaking in food or drink—even those students who are alone in the Russell Reading Room or a group study room. Like all sacred spaces, our community is taking care of the place, themselves, each other, and us.

Countway is a sacred space.

Elaine