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Campus & Community

‘It Feels Like Parents Matter’

McKeldin Opens Designated Family Study Space

By Maya Pottiger ’17, M.Jour. ’20

Kids play on computer while mom works in Family Study Room

Photos by Stephanie S. Cordle

Mahmoud, 9, and Marawan, 8, keep busy while their mom, Heba Metwally M.P.S. ’20, studies in the new Family Study Room in McKeldin Library.

Silence echoed through the third floor of McKeldin Library, where high-sided study desks line the walls and discourage conversation. But inside Room 3233, Mahmoud, 9, and Marawan, 8, could act their ages without worrying about getting shushed while their mom, Heba Metwally M.P.S. ’20, worked on her graduate degree.

After a while, the boys moved to the easel to draw pictures and decorate with stickers, then sat on a kid-sized couch to read books ranging from “Are You My Mother?” to “Madeline.”

This is the new Family Study Room, which makes McKeldin Library a place where students with young children and caregivers can access the stacks or finish off a paper without having to find child care. It’s a helpful resource at a university where more than 15% of graduate students and 24% of undergraduate veteran students have kids; since opening in November, the room has been booked more than 50 times.

Boy reads in Family Study Room“You walk by a space like this and you say, ‘Everyone is welcome here. I can visually see the library is being used by all types of identities and people,’” said Rachel Gammons, head of teaching and learning services at UMD Libraries. “It’s an important statement that we’re making about the fact that a library is a community center.”

The family room stands out with its bright window decorations and “Welcome families!” sign. Inside are two desks with computers, a table with coloring books and art materials, an easel, a stocked bookshelf and bins of toys. Kids can hang artwork on two clotheslines. 

With two workstations, the room is designed to serve two families, or six people at once. They just need to reserve it online; the key is at the desk on the second floor.

“We also don’t want parents or caregivers to feel relegated to this space,” Gammons said, “but we want them to know that we have set aside space for them that’s dedicated to them.”

In addition, the Lactation Room was moved next door to the Family Study Room, and changing tables were added to both the men’s and women’s restrooms on the third floor.

Michelle Snow, who is earning her bachelor’s degree in dietetics, found the family room when she was searching for a bathroom with a changing table. She described it as clean and spacious, and everything inside was nice and new.

“Knowing that it’s there and the university did that, it feels like I matter,” Snow said. “It feels like parents matter.”

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