Once again, at the end of the semester the library hosted a Finals Study Break for all students to come take a break, relax, and have some free coffee & snacks.
Last semester we did this for the first time, and used money donated from team event funds. This time we did things a little bit differently. I had approached Starbucks and Sunflower Market for donations to no avail – then I thought how about just asking for library staff to pitch in? We have a hundred or so people working here – if everyone just gave a little bit we’d be all set. So that’s what happened.
28 librarians and library staff donated everything from coffee grounds to cookies to napkins to fresh fruit to homemade pumpkin bread. One fantastic administrative assistant brought in a huge igloo cooler full of hot chocolate. We got three huge coffee urns, a hot water heater, tea bags, juice bottles, and bottled water.
The event was held on Sunday night from 7:30-9:30pm. This is arguably the busiest night in the semester, and it was packed. Over the course of two hours, we served 365 students.
We ramped it up a little this round to make it more of an experience. We played classical guitar music and had a gorgeous poinsettia as well as lit candles to set the mood. I had a massage pad I brought in so students could get a quick massage before dashing back to their study rooms. We had comfy chairs and tables set up so there was space for students to sit down for a few minutes and relax. We had a yoga teacher lined up who was going to host a couple of sessions that taught breathing & relaxation, but unfortunately she got a migraine headache at the last minute and had to cancel.
Overall? Huge success. With very minimal work and staff time, and a budget of zero dollars, we reached 365 students. What is the outcome of this, you ask? Why would we want to just give away free food and drinks? Here’s why:
- The library is often seen as an unwelcoming place, and we really want to work on this image. What’s more welcoming than free snacks when you walk in the door?
- We want the students to know that we understand this stressful time of the semester, and we appreciate all the work that they do.
- Students get really stressed out this time of year, and they deserve a break. They will become more productive and more academically successful if they take a break from their papers or projects and get some nourishment.
- Libraries can be places of leisure and relaxation, not just work work work. This event encourages this idea.
- Libraries can also be places of community. This is a good way to bring both students and librarians together.
As long as the genorosity of library staff stays strong, we can sustain this event each semester, and reach our students in new, fun ways.