The access to Midlothian High School through the city’s public library has some parents concerned about security. As of now, the campus operates with one school resource officer and existing personnel to differentiate visitors and students.
The A.H. Meadows public library shares its walls with Midlothian High School students and residents of the city. This campus is one of 22 in the state who share the library with a city library.
There is one exterior door to the library and one interior entrance and, it is at that entrance, where a lockable, metal gate draws down from the ceiling and separates the public library from the high school.
Julie Post is library media specialist through Midlothian ISD. She is tasked as the school librarian, focusing on student and faculty needs. But she also monitors students entering and exiting the library from the school entrance. Her desk is positioned directly in front of the walkway, allowing her to observe all visitors.
Post was hired in August 2017 after she received her master's degree. She admitted the concept of a conjoined library was new to her and the idea was never brought up during her studies.
“It works great. I think the integration of students with the public is usually a positive thing for both sides,” Post explained.
Circulation-wise, Post mentioned more people from the public check out materials, but throughout the month more students utilize the library, whether it be with classes as a whole, students working on a group project or individuals.
“Both sides are using the space and the resources pretty heavily,” Post observed.
The gate remains open throughout the day. During operation hours the gate is only closed if all of the library staff is focused on visitors and students. Post stated that the gate is down maybe once a week at an hour, at most.
“If I’m doing work at a desk, I will be right here so I can monitor,” Post asserted. “If I have to be away, then we have two full-time staff aides that can monitor as well. But if it’s really busy and they feel their attention is on patrons then, we close the gate and lock it to be safe.”
But in the unlikely case that the gate is down, students would have to exit the building through the front doors, walk about 15 steps to reenter through the public library entrance.
While Post monitors students, she makes sure public patrons do not enter the school. Students do not check in and out of the library but are identified by the badge around their neck that serves as student identification.
Other than library staff, Midlothian High School is also equipped with a school resource officer, which is an armed city police officer that patrols school grounds.
Ashley Ford | @Aford_news | 469-517-1450