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National Library Week 2023: Amenities

By April 27, 2023April 2nd, 2024No Comments

It’s National Library Week (April 23-29, 2023). The theme this year is “There’s More to the Story.” At the University of Minnesota Libraries, we have resources, services, and spaces you might not know about. These are available to students, staff, and faculty at the University, while many are also available to Minnesotans and scholars around the world.

Today’s blog post features library amenities — reflection and meditation spaces, The Toaster Innovation Hub, online news access, and more.

Reflection and meditation

Walter Library has various study seating for individuals and groups stationed around the bookshelves on the foundation floor and in the sub-basement, but you’ll find the best seats in the Great Hall on the second floor, surrounded by historic architecture and a stunning skylight. The second floor also has enclosed study rooms, a space for quiet study only, a SAD light study carrell and the media viewing room that seats 12 people — great for watching movies, practicing presentations or recording audio.

Like Walter, Wilson Library has individual and group study areas on every floor — some stations have display monitors — and there are also reservable glass-walled rooms with large media tables and whiteboards. Wilson also has a 1:Button Studio, with a camera frame, microphone and lights to record one person, as well as a sensory friendly room, which helps people focus without sensory distractions. The room has adjustable lighting, an adjustable sit/stand desk, exercise ball, fidgets, weighted lap pad, wobble seat, pillows and more.

Student employee Grace tries out some of the stressbusters in the Sensory Room

Student employee Grace tries out the Sensory Room.

The Toaster

Head over to the Walter Library to study at the Toaster Innovation Hub, an open workspace designed to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. The Toaster has drop-in and reservable small groups spaces, as well as large event spaces for student organizations, pop-up classrooms and presentations. Whether you need to meet your professor for office hours, or just need a comfy chair to read in, the Toaster has you covered.

The Breakerspace at the Toaster, with a sign that says "Craft Island" hanging from ceiling. Counter with typewriter and craft supplies

The Breakerspace at the Toaster Innovation Hub.

Beyond study rooms, The Breakerspace has 3D printers, sewing machines, virtual reality technology, craft supplies and more for all your creative projects. The Toaster is also equipped with four iMac workstations with video/audio editing and graphic design software, and a quiet room with microphones, perfect for podcasting.

Round tables and chairs arranged on the patio outside of the Music Library.

The patio outside of the Music Library.

Music Library

Over on the West Bank in Ferguson Hall, the Music Library has scores, recordings and materials from all areas of Western music. The library has a group study space reservable for up to two hours. But if the study room is already taken, you could always take your work outside and enjoy the patio. The outdoor area has tables that seat people, and the space is sectioned off from the flow of traffic by large planters with beautiful flowers.

Architectural Library

Rapson Hall is home to the Architecture & Landscape Architecture Library, which primarily supports members of the College of Design. The library has an open study space with floor-to-ceiling windows that fills the room with natural light. It also has a reservable conference room with a large table seating 12-14 people, a monitor, fixed white board and bulletin board wall.

Fun Reading

The University Libraries are great for studying, but they also have books! And not just ones that are required for class, but fun ones too.

The Robert and Virginia McCollister Collection for Contemporary Literature, on the first floor of the Wilson Library, has 375 books currently topping the charts, like “What Napoleon Could Not Do” by breakout author DK Nnuro, and “Butts: A backstory” by Heather Radke.

Bookshelves with books on display as part of the McCollister Collection for Contemporary Literature at Wilson Library

You can find more best sellers, literary fiction, non-fiction and graphic novels in Walter’s Great Hall, which has over 200 popular books in its collection. If none of those catch your eye, the Magrath Library popular reading collection, located across from the ground floor service desk, has 179 books across a range of genres.

But who has time for all that on a busy schedule? That’s why as of October 2022, the UMN libraries offer new ways to read while on-the-go. Students, faculty and staff can use their U Card to check out ebooks and audiobooks on the Libby app. You can also connect library cards from Hennepin County Library and Ramsey County Library to access an even wider catalog of books.

Goldy Little Free Libraries

As you’ve walked around campus, you have noticed small maroon-and-gold Little Free Libraries, bearing an excited Goldy on the sides and door. Take a book, leave a book and see what’s inside at the installations near the Rarig Center, the St. Paul Student Center, the Robert J. Jones Urban Research Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) and the 4th Street Ramp. 


Online News Access

When misinformation is free, why pay for a newspaper subscription? Well, you don’t have to pay to stay informed on local, national and global news. The Libraries offers full-text access to thousands of newspapers worldwide, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and more. You have access not only to current news, but also newspapers archives spanning either decades or centuries, depending on the database.  

National Library Week, sponsored by the American Library Association, is an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in transforming lives and strengthening our communities.

Adria Carpenter

Author Adria Carpenter

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