Finding a spot to study

Hannah Lentz

It is easy to see when exam week has invited itself to campus, especially in the Mary Idema Pew Library and Information Commons. With hundreds of students rushing to claim the available space, finding a spot can often be more of a challenge than the class work.

Based on data collected by MIP staff members during last semester’s exam cram, the library’s maximum capacity is 1,500 students, and the maximum level of attendance during exam week was 1,100 students.

Though some students have trouble finding spots, there are actually seats available during this time that go unused and unseen, said Brian Merry, head of operations and user services at the MIP Library.

With more than 400 seats available, the challenge becomes making students aware of the space, which is something that Student Senate’s Educational Affairs Committee is currently addressing.

“We want to assist students in their efforts to maximize their educational experience by providing greater opportunities for the creation of optimal studying environments, whether as individuals or in groups,” said Scott St. Louis, vice president of the committee. “Our new library is an incredible facility that rivals the best in the country, and it’s great to see that so many students are taking advantage of it to study for finals. Even so, we want to make sure that as many people as possible have a good place in which to study.”

Library personnel are also looking to create an optimal studying environment for students. Staff members have been brainstorming ideas to bring attention to available spaces.

“Though this is a tough and stressful time for students, it’s also a busy time for library staff as they attempt to get necessary things done while being as unobtrusive as possible,” Merry said.

With the influx in library users during this time, staff members face issues regarding extended staffing hours, planned activities, custodial responsibilities and the increased volume of people in the library.

“For the most part, students are very impressive,” Merry said. “This is a stressful time, and their conduct is typically very focused, gracious and patient.”

The Educational Affairs Committee and library personnel encourage students who are interested in having their opinions heard about Exam Cram to apply for the Library Student Advisory Council. The LSAC works with University Libraries to develop and enhance the libraries’ services, policies, resources, and physical and digital spaces. Students may apply at

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