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The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

What’s the Deal with the NAC Library?

An Investigation into Our Access on the CCNY Campus
Original Art By Nicole Chen

*Due to recent events, access to some parts of the CCNY campus is now limited. This Article was written prior to the campus shut down* – May 28th 2024

As HSMSE students, we are in the unique position of learning on a college campus. While this can sometimes be annoying, for instance only having one entrance to Baskerville, there are also many benefits. A great example is the Quad, our wonderful oasis of bright green grass, flowering trees, and open sky. Getting to spend time in a beautiful outdoor space is an opportunity many high schoolers in this cramped city can’t enjoy. But apart from chilling outside, eating in the NAC Cafeteria, and using the gym, how else can we take advantage of CCNY’s campus? As an institution, the college has countless resources that MSE students could benefit from, if only we were allowed to access them.


When I first started writing this article, there seemed to be some confusion about what places on campus are actually open to us. There have been rumors about access to the Cohen Library (in the NAC), the Grove Engineering Building, and even a rooftop garden, but when I, and others I know, have tried to visit them, we’ve sometimes been turned away. Caroline Gearrity (‘25) told me about a time when she tried to go into the Cohen Library and was “told high school students weren’t allowed in,” an experience I’ve heard about from many others. In talking more with MSE students, I found out that some people had a lot of success with the library and enjoyed using the space. Benjamin Otto (‘27) had success when he went to “print out a project,” and Zahava Kahn (‘26) studied with friends “at a table right outside the library.” But I’d never heard of a consistent policy, and since our school has been on campus for over two decades, it seemed about time we had a definitive answer. If we could rely on open access, the library would be a nice place to hang out, study, and read some of the almost a million books contained within the CCNY system. So I set off on a journey to find answers about where exactly we are allowed to go and to learn more about our access to CCNY resources.


My first stop was a discussion with Mr. Zara, where I learned that beyond the well-known Baskerville Hall, Marshak Gym, and NAC Cafeteria, the only other place we are possibly allowed (in terms of consistent access) is the Cohen Library. However, he believed this permission was restricted to certain times. This explained why people could have been turned away on some days, but it did not completely account for all the experiences I heard about. 


To better understand the library policy, I talked with Lieutenant Edward Hickey, the Assistant Director of CCNY campus security. During our conversation, he corroborated the uncertainty surrounding our library access, saying that it was in a “confusing state” at the moment. However, he followed up by saying that we have access to the library every day after school, and even have the opportunity to check books out for up to eight weeks. This was great confirmation and I hope students will use this information as inspiration to go to the library. In regards to not being let in, Hickey emphasized respect and courtesy: “Don’t argue … ask for a supervisor. Don’t get in a conflict with [security guards], there can always be confusion, there can always be mistakes.” If we want to utilize the CCNY campus, it’s important that we are polite and make it so that the college feels good about (or at least doesn’t mind) sharing their campus with us.


During these interviews, I also found the substance behind the rumor about access to a rooftop garden. I learned from Mr. Zara that in the past, Ms. Boylan ran a program where students maintained a garden on the top of the Spitzer School of Architecture with the help of a CCNY professor. I talked with Ms. Boylan, who informed me that this was part of a club rather than a place where students could just hang out anytime. CCNY and HSMSE worked closely together to fund and create this space with the dedicated work of students and faculty. This opened my eyes to how integrated our school and the college can be — and have been in the past — and inspired me to think about the possible connections that could be fostered in the future.


Overall, I had a few big takeaways from my investigation. Firstly, we do have access to the NAC library, any weekday after school hours. The next was that CCNY has a lot to offer in the form of its public events (which you can read all about in Ocean and Emily’s article, “CCNY Gems”) and potential connections waiting to be made. And lastly, if there’s something you’re confused about and you’re having trouble finding the answers, keep asking questions! There’s probably someone out there who has the answer, or can help you create one. Stay curious, whether that be about rules and policies, exploring your environment, or reading books in the CCNY library. There’s so much to be gained if you go out and search for it!

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