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Embrace Your Identity

December 12, 2018

Embrace Your Identity (2)In the summer of 2016 the first floor of our library was renovated and collaborative study spaces were an integral part of the design. The first semester we were open, fall 2016, students flocked to our new spaces and settled in to new habits, or maybe old habits.

A library is a space typically known for quiet, not noisy collaboration and group work (although it happens). Administrators encouraged collaboration with the architecture and seating spaces, but students have yet to embrace this concept. We created special signage letting students know that collaboration, and dare I say it… noise was and is encouraged on the main floor. Also noting that quiet space is available upstairs. However, the students didn’t seem to embrace this. They associate the library with quiet and have told us if they want something noisy they will go elsewhere.


This held true for first finals programming we did in 2016. We collaborated with the Lebanon County Library Libraries and brought some of their STEM robots to campus letting students test drive them in our new open floor plan.

While some students enjoyed something different, many felt it was too distracting leading up to finals. We heard time and again that the library was their place to escape the noise and chaos surrounding them in other spaces and the library was their quiet place to focus on academic pursuits. In response to this, we have made a conscious effort to be respectful of students the week before finals (when all their papers are due) and during finals by having the entire building go, drum roll please…. quiet.

kermit quietStudents on the social media committee have become quite adept at creating meme’s (using free meme generators) to celebrate our early quiet hours based on whatever finals theme we have selected.

Our new strategy is finding new and quiet ways of helping overburdened students de-stress. Crafts, coloring, dot-to-dots, bubble wrap, Sudoku, word searches, play dough, and candy giveaways on a limited budget have been our recent mainstays.

However, we are always searching for new and fun, quiet and inexpensive activities to brighten our students’ finals periods. If money was no object, I would love to host a silent disco at the library. So far the expensive price tag and knowledge that they would prefer to do a puzzle here stands in my way.



Photo credits in order of appearance:

  • Bentz, Maureen, “It’s beginning to look a lot like #finals,” Instagram, 2018,
  • Lebanon Valley College. “Lebanon Valley College-Reader’s Club,” Oversize Photograph Boxes, Lebanon Valley College Archives Photograph Collection, circa 1931, Annville, PA.
  • Bentz, Maureen, “De-Stress at the Library 2016,” Facebook, 2016,
  • Finals,” Facebook, 2017,
  • Bentz, Maureen, “Finals,” Facebook, 2018,



One Comment leave one →
  1. Christina Steffy permalink
    December 16, 2018 6:59 pm

    When our new campus buildings were designed, the emphasis throughout was on collaborative space. We find many students coming to our learning commons hoping for quiet space, and using all of the space as quiet space even though we encourage collaboration and noise in some areas. We thought perhaps it was because there was so much group space on campus, they were coming to the learning commons for quiet space. With each semester, more people get used to the idea of collaborative, noisy areas, but most of our students still come in wanting quiet, somewhat private space.

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