By Christopher Lee
All of us at Cal Poly SLO have received a lot of questions about the stress relief programs at the Kennedy Library. We currently have two programs providing stress relief to two different demographics. The Take5 program, formerly known as Stressbusters, provides activities for our library patrons to unwind after a long day of classes and homework. We also have the Sunshine Committee to plan activities to help the other group that spends all day at the library: library faculty and staff.
College is stressful. According to the American College Health Association, over 80% of college students feel overwhelmed, over 70% feel mentally exhausted, and a little over 50% feel very sad, lonely, and anxious at school (ACHA, 2013, p. 13-14). The Take5 program was started in 2009 to help students reduce stress on campus. The original committee came up with this mission statement:
“The Library Stressbusters Team will develop a program to support students during stressful times of the quarter. The program will include both stress-relieving activities directed toward all students and suggestions for further help for students in greater need.”
Over the years many activities were held, mostly with positive feedback. Some of the most successful programs became yearly or quarterly events.
Working with Therapy Dogs International, Take5 brings certified therapy dogs to the front lawn outside the library. The Take5 Committee provides water for the dogs, and what feels like hundreds of students swing by to pet (wo)mans best friend. The dogs wag their tails in excitement to get so much attention and you can hear many students talk about the dogs they miss from home.
Similar to the dogs a herd of baby goats make their way to the library every spring. A local family brings the goats to the wildly popular event and library staff have been known to place a GoPro camera, or GoatPro, on a goat to get the real insider perspective.
We needed an activity to appeal to people who aren’t very fond of dogs, so we filled the atrium with cats. The cats come from the Cal Poly Cat Program, an on campus shelter, to get some socialization and hopefully get adopted.
Librarian Jesse Vestermark gives small watercolor workshops for students in one of the more relaxing Take5 activities. The Take5 Committee helps set up tables and water cups, provides supplies, and even brings fruit for still life paintings.
These are a few of the common programs the library puts on. We have also done holiday themed activities such as Blind Date with a Book, Mothers and Fathers day cards, and holiday snacks passed around the library. For more information on Take5 please go to the library Facebook page, the library website, or read this conference paper written by the Take5 Committee chair Conny Liegl.
The Sunshine Committee is a somewhat recent addition to Cal Poly. This program is similar to Take5 because it is centered around stress relief activities, but these activities are for faculty and staff instead of students.
The official goal of the Sunshine Committee is to “create mutual respect and understanding among employees, to build meaningful relationships and convey a sense of a shared work experience” (Kennedy Library, 2015). To achieve this goal the committee plans stress relief activities and social hours.
Stress relief is important at work, especially since “more than one-third of working Americans reported experiencing chronic work stress” (APA, 2016). The Sunshine Committee provides activities that let people step away from work for about an hour, recharge their mind, and get to know people from different departments. Some of the Sunshine activities include parties such as the Halloween costume party and the library winter cookie exchange.
Sunshine events are also a place to show off the talents of our staff. Over the summer the committee planned the staff Olympics where we went bowling and played corn hole. A series of events called “Recess at Work” events gave staff an opportunity to show talents such as poetry writing, model rocket building and launching, and tie dying. Resource Sharing specialist and Sunshine Sunbeam, Holly Richmond, taught the library how to tie dye shirts, socks, and other articles of clothing.
Both the Sunshine events and Take5 activities have helped reduce the stress of our library community. These activities also foster friendships between departments to help make the entire library a more pleasant and united place.
What activities do you participate in at your library? If you want to share something about your home library please share it with the rest of I-SPIE by writing an article on the I-SPIE website! Please email email@example.com to submit an idea or article!
American College Health Association, & National College Health Assessment II (2013). Reference Group Executive Summary Spring 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.acha-ncha.org/docs/ACHA-NCHA-II_ReferenceGroup_ExecutiveSUmmary_Spring2013.pdf
American Psychological Association, (2016). Coping with stress at work. [Web article]. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/work-stress.aspx
Conny Liegl. “Goats, Crayons and Bananas – Creative Ways to Fight Student Stress” 2014 International Symposium on Education and Psychology, Tokyo, Japan (2014)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/cliegl/2/
Kennedy Library, (2015). Wiki. [Web report].