It’s the most wonderful time of the year, academic librarians: from across campus, students are flocking to your stacks, makerspaces and computer labs to get in their last-minute studying before finals week.
For the shyer scholars at your academic institution, this might be the first time they’ve stepped into your library — so it’s time to put your best foot forward, ensure students have everything they need and everyone is set up for success this finals week.
But finals week can be just as stressful for you as it is for students. The questions never cease, there are more books than ever to reshelve and you’re spending an extra two hours (at least!) a night herding half-asleep art history majors towards your Chinese tapestry collections.
In order to make this time a little more pleasant for students (and you), we’ve compiled some tips and tricks from other academic libraries to get through finals week with as little stress as possible and you can maybe even have a little fun. Here are six libraries that took finals studying to a whole new level:
1. Cornell University
What’s more soothing than the great outdoors? Cornell University Library brought nature to their students by installing a temporary, real grass lawn during finals week. Basing their project on Attention Restoration Theory, which says that direct exposure to nature can reduce stress and increase brain function, the library partnered with the Cornell Council on Mental Health for this soothing oasis in the middle of the library. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with the lawn used by students and faculty alike to relax, rejuvenate and even play a game of croquet between study sessions.
2. University of California – Santa Barbara
At the University of California – Santa Barbara, Sesame Street’s very own Cookie Monster dropped by to visit students and distribute some baked goods to those staying late in the library.
3. Samford University
Samford University Library kept a round-the-clock watch on social media to respond as quickly as possible to student questions and queries during finals week. This allowed them to engage with their campus community virtually, build up their social media following and let large numbers of students know about important goings-on quickly. How else were students to know that therapy dogs and pizza were available in the library lobby?
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries put together an entire finals week survival kit for their students. They compiled a list of all study breaks on campus (including “Cookies with Canines” where students could relax with therapy dogs and eat some sweet treats), a library map of special study rooms, recommended writing areas, 24-hour cram zones and a list of “library distractions” including manga, movies and music designed to take students’ minds off their impending tests.
5. Boise State University
Boise State Library stayed open late to help students cram, but they also implemented a special mental health program to help students stay healthy during a stressful week. The CARE program provides assistance to the university community to help them stay safe and focused on their studies. Plus, Boise State University's Online Learning Portal offers program learning guides with curriculum and career path requirements that help keep students informed and motivated to finish their studies well.
6. Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University’s ZSR Library put on a finals week festival called Wake the Library. Featuring 24-hour food service for students, faculty and staff. This included snacks like burritos and chicken n’ biscuits served in a 'ZieSta' room with luxurious recliners perfect for a quick snooze, so Wake Forest students had everything they needed to study productively.
Are you looking for innovative ways to keep students relaxed and happy no matter what time of the year? Check out our whitepaper on the 9 Innovations Shaping Academic Libraries Today.
How is your library helping students survive finals this semester? Let us know in the comments below!