Sterling study break draws hundreds

Sterling Memorial Library organized its first ever study break this Wednesday in an effort to familiarize students with the University’s library resources and introduce the new University Librarian, Susan Gibbons.
Sterling Memorial Library organized its first ever study break this Wednesday in an effort to familiarize students with the University’s library resources and introduce the new University Librarian, Susan Gibbons. Photo by Selen Uman.

Hundreds of students turned out for the first ever undergraduate study break the Yale University Library hosted in Sterling Memorial Library Wednesday afternoon.

Library administrators estimated that between 300 and 400 students attended the event, which was held in Sterling’s Linonia and Brothers Reading Room, also known as the “green room.” The event in Sterling will be followed by a series of similar study breaks that will be held in the residential colleges intended to increase awareness about the University’s library services. Students interviewed said they appreciated the study break, which gave them a chance to meet University Librarian Susan Gibbons — who assumed the post in March ­— and provided free food and drinks to attendees.

Gibbons said she hoped the event improved students’ knowledge of Sterling’s staff and study spaces, especially for undergraduates who may find the library intimidating.

“The Study Break is an opportunity to welcome students into Sterling and show them one great, underutilized study space, the [Linonia and Brothers Reading] room,” Gibbons said in a Wednesday email.

The high student turnout at Wednesday’s event surprised library administrators, who had purchased enough refreshments for 200 students, Associate University Librarian Kendall Crilly said. With far more attendees than had been anticipated, the snacks ­— hot chocolate, apple cider, sushi, popcorn, candy, cookies, and cupcakes ­— ran out in about 30 minutes.

Library administrators said they were pleased with the turnout at the study break. The event was first discussed this summer when Director of Access Services Brad Warren suggested the study break as a means of welcoming students back to campus, Crilly said, and Gibbons approved the plans in early October.

Sterling has not hosted an event similar to the study break in the past few years, Crilly said, and strain on the University’s budget forced the library to reduce its social events in recent years. Budget constraints have also prevented other libraries, such as the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, from hosting social events on a regular basis, said Interim Music Library Director Suzanne Lovejoy.

Emily Horning, director of undergraduate research and outreach, said similar study breaks will be hosted by residential colleges with Yale librarians in the coming weeks. These smaller events will allow students to meet their personal librarians and learn about the library, said Horning, who coordinates the personal librarian program and will organize the residential library study breaks. The first one will be hosted in Berkeley Nov. 16.

Crilly said one goal of the study break in Sterling was to “firm up” relationships between library staff and undergraduates, adding that personal librarians were invited to the event. The study break was geared toward undergraduates partly because professional school libraries currently host receptions for their students, he said. The School of Music, for example, held a small reception for new graduate students in one of the Music Library’s seminar rooms at the start of the semester.

All 10 students interviewed at the study break said they enjoyed the event and support the library’s effort to reach out to undergraduates.

“It’s nice to have a quick place to get a quick snack and replenish yourself,” Kayla Williams ’13 said.

Dahlia Mignouna ’12 said the study break was beneficial for students who work mainly during the day, as opposed to master’s study breaks that are often held later at night.

The study break in Sterling ran from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., and included free giveaways and raffles.

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