By Amanda Joerndt
Students with young children at Youngstown State University now have a place to study while entertaining their children through the development of Maag Library’s family study room, which features a variety of toys and books.
With support from the Student Government Association and the Division of Student Experience, Maag Library installed a family study room on the lower level to accommodate students that commute to campus with their kids.
About two years ago, a strategic investment fund was awarded to SGA to create a grocery store on campus, which is now the Giant Eagle delivery system.
With leftover funds from the investment plan, SGA’s former president, Ernie Barkett, started to develop an idea to create a family study room on campus.
Caroline Smith, current SGA president and a graduate student in the English department, said students on campus today are different from students on campus 20 years ago.
“The idea that a student comes to class and goes home is not existent at this point,” she said. “We see students with children on campus all the time, and I think it was about time that we accommodate them and became more inclusive and respectful to the students with children.”
Smith said she hopes the development of the family study room helps include more diverse individuals who are taking part in on-campus activity.
“I hope this marks a way for the university to set more goals about inclusivity and diversity on campus,” she said. “This might just be one space where we decided to include students who have children and make this more accessible to them, but this is just one piece to a larger puzzle.”
Alyssa Granitto, a graduate student in the counseling program, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony with her 2-month-old infant.
Granitto said she plans to take advantage of the study room when she has to commute to campus with her infant.
“I’m a new parent, so it’s pretty exciting for us to be able to have somewhere to go,” she said. “It’s awesome because there’s no place on campus like this.”
According to Granitto, she feels more motivated to complete her master’s degree program knowing there’s a safe space to study with her child.
“I think this is a great opportunity for future moms and current moms,” she said. “I think this will be a big hit on campus, and I know I’ll definitely be able to utilize this in my time here for the master’s program.”
Smith said she contacted other departments and organizations on campus to turn the idea into a reality.
“We contacted Ana [Torres] and Christine [Adams] at Maag Library, and we talked with Eddie Howard and we all came together to choose the best possible space to engage with students who have children on campus,” she said. “It would be about a year in total for this space to be secured, funded and furnished.”
Adams, co-director and head of research and academic support at Maag, worked closely with the two organizations to install a safe, comfortable study space for students with children.
She said conversation among other librarians to install a family study room was already in the works.
“SGA approached us about this idea, and it was actually something that Torres, co-director and head of library services and operations, and I had talked about on and off for a while,” she said. “It definitely meets a need on campus because there are a lot of students who have children, and they now can bring them to the library.”
Adams said the room is filled with toys and books for the children, along with a computer and new furniture for students to use while studying.
“We think it turned out really great, and there are a lot of nice new furniture in here along with a nice children’s area,” she said. “Right now, we have one computer available for students to use, but we plan on adding more to the area.”
Next to the family study room is a lactation room for student mothers to have a safe environment to cater to their young children.
“The lactation room has been here for a couple of years, and we heard from other departments a while ago that there were mothers looking for a room like this,” Adams said. “We put together a room … with a nice rocking chair, and it’s real peaceful for mothers to have privacy and not be bothered.”
According to Adams, they hope that students and children benefit from the room and in return share their experience with the library.
“We’re going to market and promote it and really hope the students know it’s here,” she said. “We hope they let us know how useful it really is for them in the future.