- Somewhere inside the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) there is a space dramatically unlike the others. As the mighty warship steams through the water, the crew bustles in action all over -- performing their necessary duties around the clock to ensure the vessel maintains peak operational readiness. In the midst of it all, among the haze gray bulkheads and hot engine rooms, there is one place that emanates peace and tranquility. This is a haven, a place to unwind -- a temporary escape from the demands of a long deployment.
This is McCampbell’s new library, “A-loft,” which serves as a place for Sailors to relax and improve themselves, and Operation’s Specialist 2nd Class Janis Jackson, McCampbell’s librarian, is working diligently to keep it that way.
When the ship’s previous library was replaced by a weight gym as part of a space reassignment following the installation of new equipment, Jackson was worried that there wouldn’t be anywhere else to have a library on the already space limited warship. She believed in the importance of a place for Sailors to relax from their daily stresses and read, and she convinced her chain of command to allow her to re-invent the ship’s training office as the new library for the crew.
“I think it’s important that the people onboard have somewhere to escape the stress of being a Sailor and relax,” said Jackson. “I think having that is as necessary as having food to eat or somewhere to sleep. When I created ‘A-loft’ I wanted to provide that place.”
With the help of a few volunteers, Jackson filled the space with books and various decorations to help stimulate the mind. She raised money through fundraisers that allowed to her to add a few comforts to the place, such as bean bag chairs for visitors and a rug for the space. Books of all kinds line the shelves, from fiction, non-fiction and informational guides to study material for common exams such as the ASVAB, GED, and SAT.
The crew has responded well to the space and many have taken advantage of “A-loft.” It has proven particularly beneficial during the McCampbell’s current deployment, conducting a Western Pacific patrol with the George Washington Strike Group.
“‘A-loft’ has all kinds of books and resources to help me figure out my career,” said Seaman Christopher Mulhollon. “Everywhere else on the ship is full of people working, and this place is like a little ‘fort of relaxation’. I think OS2 has done a really great job.”
Many others share Seaman Mulhollon’s perspective and embrace the serenity of the space.
“It’s one of the few relaxing places on the ship. It’s somewhere I can go and sit and clear my mind,” said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Zachariah Ball. “This is one of the few places I can have my five minutes of privacy.”
Jackson is pleased with the crew’s response to A-loft and is going to continue to maintain the library and improve McCampbell.
“People need this, and I’m going to do what I can to make sure it stays around,” said Jackson. “I’m proud of this place.”
McCampbell is part of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group, the U.S. Navy's only forward deployed carrier strike group, based out of Yokosuka, Japan, and is conducting a routine Western Pacific Ocean patrol.