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McNairy Library Introduces New Parent Workstation

“It’s a nice place for parents to be able to focus on their coursework when away from home.”

Millersville is further pursuing inclusivity by introducing a workstation for student parents and their children in the McNairy Library and Learning Forum. 

This new workstation provides student parents with a dedicated space on campus to engage in schoolwork while having their children with them. The workspace will be located on the first floor of the library in the Knowledge Commons, which holds student computers and workstations. The project is led by Assistant Professor and Communication Librarian Kim Auger who was awarded a Millersville EPPIIC Micro-Grant of $1,000 to fund the project, in collaboration with applied engineering, safety and technology Assistant Professor Dr. Justin Egresitz. Students in the applied engineering, safety and technology program are voluntarily helping to design and construct the workstation, which is set to be finished and ready to use by the end of the semester. 

Student parents were consulted during the planning process of this project to ensure their needs would be met. “We didn’t want to make these decisions without ensuring that parents have some say in the design and functionality,” says Auger. Based on this feedback, the workstation will include features designed for children to use and interact with while their parent is working, like a small stool, tumbling mat, tablet slot and interactive toys. The area will be large enough to accommodate a stroller and the station will have a sunshade. The idea behind these elements is to provide a safe and secure place for children to be with their parent.  

Auger was inspired by several public libraries that implemented a similar space for parents, as well as her own observations in the library. “I would see a parent upstairs on the third floor looking to try and find something to entertain their child,” says Auger. “I also thought about the fact that we may not see some student parents because they’re not coming into the library.” The hope is that this dedicated space will encourage student parents to utilize the library and its resources for their benefit. “It’s a nice place for parents to be able to focus on their coursework when away from home,” says Auger.  

Although Millersville does not keep track of the number of student parents, on average, nationally more than one in five undergraduate students are parents. “If we extrapolate this and say this is typical, we likely have as many students in this institution as well,” says Auger. This workstation will act as a support resource for these students.  

The space also allowed students to get hands-on experience in construction

While this space will benefit student parents once finished, the process of constructing it benefits another group of students by providing hands-on experience. “It’s been valuable because I feel that it is something we’re going to end up doing as far as a career,” says Jason Gabel, a junior in the applied engineering, safety and technology program and president of the Technology and Engineering Education Collegiate Association student club. Gabel has acted as a liaison on the project and helped to design, fabricate and implement building plans. He has had help from Andrew Reed, junior, in this process, as well as other students in the program. “I think it’s important to get hands-on experience now, because when we go in out into the industry after college, it’s important to have that so you can demonstrate it to potential employers,” says Reed. 

According to Gabel, another guiding motive for this project lies in the desire to help Millersville’s community. “We’re able to give back to the library and be a part of the community here,” says Gabel. “It definitely warms my heart that I’m able to help aid in this situation.”

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