August 1, 2014

Napping in the Library—On Purpose

zach malter pod Napping in the Library—On Purpose

Zachary Malter, president of the Wesleyan Student Assembly, in the Science Library pod. Photo by Melody Oliphant.

While librarians often consider patrons sleeping in the library a problem to be solved, at Wesleyan it is now something to be encouraged. Wesleyan University installed EnergyPods in its Olin and Science libraries on October 16, University Librarian Patricia Tully told LJ. The pods were donated by Wesleyan alumni Christopher Lindholst and Arshad Chowdhury, co-founders of MetroNaps. They’re designed to provide the perfect environment for a 20 minute nap, from positioning to privacy to white noise and a gentle wake-up call via vibrations and lighting rather than a blaring alarm clock.

Tully told LJ the library hasn’t kept track of the number of students who have used the pods so far, but “the student blog and Twitter feed have been buzzing since they were installed. The student reviews are mixed, but mostly positive.”

In 2007, Chowdhury donated an EnergyPod to Carnegie Mellon’s Hunt Library. Gloriana St. Clair, Dean of Libraries at Carnegie Mellon, told LJ the pod is “very heavily used,” particularly around mid-terms and finals. When the pod is in use, Carnegie Mellon’s sleepy library users now have another option. Said St. Clair, “My partner (a champion napper) died last year. Several people gave gifts to the libraries in his honor and I used that money to buy nine recliners for the Sorrells Library… Most of these chairs are used most of the time. It is a very cheap alternative to the napping pod.”

MetroNaps is targeting the educational market for its products, among others, citing research which Chowdury conducted at Carnegie Mellon while getting his business degree, as well as other studies on the benefits of napping. The company told LJ its university clients include St. Leo University and Savannah College of Art and Design. MetroNaps has also installed a unit at a public library in Helsinki, Finland. The pods normally cost $8,995 to $12,985 plus shipping and installation, according to the company. (Tully says installation took a few hours.) Each measures 84″x48″x58″ and takes three feet of clearance.

A trial of the EnergyPods was conducted at Warwick University in the U.K., which concluded, “Whilst EnergyPods themselves may not directly enhance learning, they do provide an opportunity to explore the relationship between relaxation, reflective learning and on napping and improved retention. There is some evidence to show that information retention is enhanced by napping immediately after complex learning.” (A 2010 study from the University of California at Berkeley also suggests that napping before learning helps performance.)

 

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Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Senior Editor, News and Features of Library Journal.

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