The space supports student parents by allowing them to bring along their child or children while they complete their coursework. The study room is easily accessible and can be scheduled for four-hour blocks up to 28 days in advance, accommodating up to 10 occupants.
“The room is conveniently located on the first floor and has so many options for entertaining kids while still giving a student the space, technology and services that they need to succeed,” said Rhonda Huisman, Dean of the University Library. “We visited a few campuses and researched other institutions who were creating these types of family-friendly spaces and wanted the space to feel accessible, inclusive and fun for a parent and their kids.”
For the studying caregiver or parent, the room is equipped with a wall-mounted monitor, computer workstation, HDMI connection for personal laptops, webcam, wired and wireless network connectivity and printer. It also includes a white board with markers and eraser.
For children, the room has toys, games, puzzles, coloring books with crayons, markers, colored pencils and books. It also has essential items like a portable crib, baby chair, clean-up supplies and more.
“As a long-time student and a parent of four, I spent many hours in the library trying to get my coursework done, and sometimes I struggled with either being away from my kids for many hours or trying to find childcare,” Huisman added. “When the idea for the space started, our staff and librarians were also sharing stories about their experiences either as parents themselves, or from working with students in their classrooms or in the library. They were committed to finding resources and a space that would be welcoming to our students, and I’m so grateful for their focus on how the library is part of students’ success. They donated most of the supplies and toys!”
The study room has been a collaborative effort between the staff at Lindgren Early Learning Center, the Student Parent Support Center and the Miller Center. Carol Gibson-Miller, Director of the Lindgren Early Learning Center, hopes to see that relationship grow and have the Lindgren Center put a system in place to loan toys to the Miller Center next year. That includes rotating toys and implementing a check-out system that benefits all parties.
“Any support that we can provide to our student parents decreases stress and increases healthy parent child relationships,” Gibson-Miller said. “It is not easy to find ways to have quality study time for parents who are also students. The pull between dependent children and needed study time is constant.”
“(This) room allows parent and child to be in the same room with different focuses,” she continued. “The parent can focus on school work and the child on the toys provided in the room. If a child needs to access the parent, a connection can happen easily. The room provides a safe place for children to play and be supervised while their parent can complete needed homework and study time.”
The University Library hosted an Open House to tour the new Student Parent Study Room on Nov. 1.