Law school can be a pretty stressful time for students. I’ve seen harried students conduct minor freak outs at the printers because their final draft of a memo they waited until the last minute to print was stuck somewhere in the printer’s nether regions. I’ve seen fresh-faced 23 year olds age a decade during their time in law school. I heard of the stressful nature of law school during the first few years of my law librarian career ad nauseum, so I accepted it as Gospel. It wasn’t until I started classes part-time myself that I realized the full truth of the matter and became an Apostle of this truism. Peanut butter goes well with jelly on a sandwich. What goes up must come down. It takes two to tango. Law school is stressful.
Lately, there has been a trend towards law libraries acting as facilitators of stress relief for students by providing therapy dogs students can “check out” for half-hour therapy sessions. We’ve all probably heard by now of Monty, the super stress relieving dog at Yale. The University of San Francisco Dorraine Zief Law Library recently began a similiar program by using five trained canines on loan from the San Francisco SPCA. At LSU last fall, we partnered with the Baton Rouge Capital Area Animal Welfare Society to bring therapy dogs to the library during our “Dog Days of Finals” program.
This trend poses an important question- Do we, as law libraries, want to be in the business of stress relief? I say why not? It can be just like any other service we provide like checking out laptops or study rooms. The idea may not even be a new one if the well worn chess sets I found tucked away in a forgotten cabinet in our library is any indication. This avenue of service has the potential to make our jobs a lot more fun and can only serve to increase staff morale if we participate along with the students. I noticed some of our librarians “testing out” the dogs before our Dog Days campaign started, and they seemed to be in a cheerful mood for the rest of the day. What other ideas besides canine therapy would make for good stress relief and nice diversions from the grind of school?
My personal favorite idea right now is to convert a newly emptied office on the fourth floor of our building into an English gentlemen’s library of sorts, furnished with a faux mahogany electric fireplace, solid oak bookshelves, nice hardbound sets of classic literature, and Italian leather chairs. Students could check this relaxation room out in the same way they do a study room. All that would be missing is a glass of brandy, a lit cigar, and the afternoon paper.
A couple of other ideas that have been floated around along this same vein are:
- A yoga room
- A zen garden area with a running waterfall
- A nap room with comfortable couches and/or hammocks
- An outside basketball court
The possibilites for creativity are limitless. What are some of the ways your library has helped to destress students or staff?
photos courtesy of www.freestockimages.net/