USM’s Gulf Coast Library Opens Relaxation Room for Students, Faculty and Staff
Thu, 02/01/2024 - 09:41am | By: Gabriela Shinskie
Libraries are known to provide a plethora of resources to the various patrons who come through their doors. Whether it’s for computer help, study tools, or to find a quiet place to study, the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Gulf Coast Library also focuses on mental health through a new Relaxation Room. Located in room 301 at Gulf Coast Library in Long Beach, this room offers both a traditional study room and a reservable relaxation space.
In 2023, Neal Lawson, business librarian at Gulf Coast Library, attended the Mississippi Library Association Conference where he learned about the benefits of relaxation and study rooms for students, faculty, and staff. He presented his ideas to Jamie Stanfield, Head of Gulf Coast Libraries, and Stanfield was all in.
“I was an immediate fan,” said Stanfield.
Stanfield and Lawson explored items in the library that could be incorporated into a new Relaxation Room. The features within the room are meant to spark calmness and positivity. When reserving the Relaxation Room, one will find a dimmable lamp to adjust lighting, positive mindful message cards, colored pencils, crayons, coloring cards, fidget spinners, stress balls, Play-Doh, crossword puzzles, and motion bubble timers. Stanfield also placed serene pieces of art on the walls.
“In the past and in the present, students have high anxiety due to the different obligations they have with their classes, exams, jobs, and family,” Lawson said. “The Relaxation Room is a good thing and a good program to help improve their physical and mental well-being.”
Stanfield says that the library is both a hub for academic resources and a social gathering spot, and the Relaxation Room enhances the overall experience for everyone who uses the facility. “There are so many things that we provide in an academic and social setting,” she further noted.
The library seeks to accommodate large group settings for students looking to study together or find a quiet place alone. Other rooms are laid out to help those enrolled online with access to online meeting software. This spring, Gulf Coast library is offering various wellness programs for students, faculty, and staff to take a break from daily tasks and unwind together. The upcoming wellness programs include art therapy, mindfulness meditation, physical fitness, therapy dogs, and yoga.
“It’s an important role of the library to provide a safe and quiet space for students to relax and study,” said Lawson.
To reserve the Relaxation Room at the Gulf Coast Library, visit the reservation page at USM’s University Libraries website.