Brock Library is hoping to make it easier for students to hit the books with children in tow.
‘Busy boxes’ filled with craft materials, puzzles and children’s books can now be checked out at the library’s Ask Us desk.
Funded by BU 4U Retention and Graduation Grants, the busy box initiative was launched at the beginning of Fall Term and has begun to pick up traction.
“We were thinking about different initiatives we could introduce to support student wellness and this seemed like a great fit,” said Liaison Librarian Jennifer Thiessen. “This was one way we can support our students who may be coming in with their children as well as caregivers who find themselves in a similar situation.”
It was a colleague at Ryerson University Library who introduced Thiessen to the concept of the boxes, which was then modified for use at Brock.
The plastic totes are filled with craft materials, construction paper, notepads, pencil crayons, puzzles and storybooks meant to keep youngsters occupied while their parent or caregiver studies or works on assignments. Two versions are available: For ages three to six and ages six to 10.
They can be checked out from the library for 24 hours at a time.
“We want to make coming to the library and using its resources as convenient as possible for students,” said Evelyn Smith, Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator and Reference Assistant. “It’s about looking at a student as a whole person and recognizing the various avenues of support we can offer to help make life easier for them and to help them destress.”
Through the Brock retention grants, the library also recently increased its collection of board games, cards and Lego, and introduced a section of wellness-related reading materials this summer.
“We’ve got a lot of practical, sensible reads on how to manage life,” Smith said. “These are not self-help books, but touch on topics like strategies for getting enough sleep, managing money as a young person, cooking, friendship, disconnecting from your devices and decluttering.
“They’ve been circulating quite well.”
The grants also allowed the library to introduce happy lights, which mimic sunlight, and to partner with Student Wellness and Accessibility Services to offer space for counselling and mental health drop-in sessions.
While the majority of the wellness materials are available in the James A. Gibson Library, a small selection of puzzles, games and one happy light are also available at Brock’s Map, Data and GIS Library in MCC 306. Library resources are available to all members of the Brock community, including students, staff and faculty members.
“There’s a lot of research that supports student wellness being a factor in succeeding in University, so it’s one of our focuses,” Thiessen said. “It’s important that we’re not only a place you go to get resources for assignments but also where you access supports of different kinds as well.”
Libraries are reinventing themselves, Smith said.
“Now we’re looking at where there is a need in the community we serve and how we can fill it,” she said.
Library staff are “always open to new ideas and want to hear more about what students need,” Thiessen added.
She encouraged anyone with thoughts on potential new initiatives the library could take on to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the library’s games and ‘stressbusters,’ visit brocku.ca/library/use/borrow/games-stressbusters