For most students, lunchtime is a chance to decompress and chill with friends outdoors, in the school gym, cafeteria or club rooms.
At Hebrew Academy, however, the “coolest” place to hang out is neither the usual campus haunts nor nearby Cavendish Mall.
The popular spot for free time now is the Gewurz-Sternthal Library, which recently underwent an overhaul that vastly improved its previous dreariness.
“If you build it, they will come,” said Hebrew Academy’s veteran librarian, Norma Newman. They built it, thanks to the vision of Hebrew Academy executive director Linda Lehrer – and not only did the students come once; they keep coming daily in large numbers.
Hebrew Academy’s current library is the third Newman has worked in. She recalls when the books were stacked in trailers in the school’s former location on Mackle Road.
“We’ve come a long way,” she said. “We have evolved from having the entire collection on rolling carts to the magnificent space that we have today.”
With new state-of-the art facilities complete with Wi-Fi, modern computer stations, comfortable purple banquettes, snazzy carpets, and inspirational quotations on the wall, some describe the atmosphere as Zen-like.
Bibliophile Jamie Libenstein, a Grade 10 student, appreciates the overall “welcoming” feel.
“I love books and the new library is a happy place. I love the couches; they’re so much better than sitting in a hard chair.”
For Grade 9 student Noah Cohen, the library serves as the ideal backdrop for both learning and socializing.
“On the one hand, there are cubicles here where I can study quietly if I want, but I also come here to hang out with my friends. The library is young and vibrant, and there are inspirational quotes everywhere. The set-up is great.”
“It’s comfortable here,” said Grade 5 student Ayelet Mann. “I like the colourful atmosphere.” Classmate Arielle Rohr agreed. “You can relax here. It’s the coolest place in the whole school.”