Iowa State College library to strive a family-friendly classroom

Members of the Iowa State University community who need a place to study but also have a child to care for will have a place at the Parks Library this fall to try them out.

The family-friendly room on the lower level of the library – available by reservation – is the type of room members of the Iowa State have asked for, according to Cris Broshar, the WorkLife and Family Services coordinator in the university’s Human Resources Department.

Broshar said a February 2020 survey of Iowa state students who are also parents found that about two-thirds of those surveyed needed more kid-friendly spaces on campus.

“The library made a lot of sense,” she said.

Hilary Seo, dean of the library department, said a former group study room is being converted into a room that can accommodate eight residents – two adults and their children – at the same time.

Seo said that anyone with an ISU-Net ID can use and reserve the room – these are doctoral students, faculties, staff, postdocs, scholarship holders and researchers, as well as undergraduate students.

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In addition to the technology for adult learning needs, there will be a children’s computer with educational software, toys, a play kitchen and a small table with chairs.

The interior window of the room will also display artwork etched in vinyl by children from the campus day care center.

Seo said the room is near a bathroom with a diaper changing station, nursing room, and the library’s children’s collection.

The new space will have similarities with existing family-friendly areas in other university libraries, Seo said, noting Michigan State University, the University of Utah, Portland State University, and Southern Illinois University.

She said it was a trend for campuses to have more of these spaces than libraries as universities cater to the needs of nontraditional and first-generation students.

“Libraries have problems with space,” rethinking their collection tracks to create more useful spaces instead of keeping all of their books on-site at all times, she said.

If the family-friendly pilot room is a success based on usage and feedback, Seo said a larger room or rooms could be considered.

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She said the Iowa state’s design and veterinary medicine libraries are just too small, but other rooms on campus could be considered.

She couldn’t immediately provide the exact cost of the family-friendly room at the Parks Library, but said the student government, the graduate and professional senate, and the student newspaper Iowa State Daily contributed about $ 6,000.

As for the voices in the library, Broshar said while they can’t make promises that a bit of noise won’t spread outside of the room, the toys inside are likely to encourage slightly quieter play, and Seo said the area around the room was usually not densely populated by students.

Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be reached by email at [email protected]. He’s on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.

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