Robarts opens Canada’s first university library family study space – The Varsity


On March 15, the University of Toronto Libraries, in collaboration with the Family Care Office, opened a family study space at the Robarts Library, the first of its kind in Canada.

Designed for current students, faculty, visiting scholars and University of Toronto staff with their children aged 12 and under, the space aims to foster equity, diversity and inclusion by meeting the unique needs of student parents.

Students with family responsibilities are often “not what we think of as a traditional student,” said Francesca Dobbin, director of family programs and services at the University of Toronto. “These are usually students who… many times, in addition to their student responsibilities, have part-time jobs, so they really have to juggle their time to make sure they meet the academic requirements. And they don’t always have the resources and attention they need after hours to be able to get to the library after their day care day ends at 7 or 8 p.m.

At the University of Toronto, according to a 2016 report, 18% of doctoral students have one or more children, while 11% of professional master’s students and 5% of research master’s students have them. About half of doctoral students said family obligations were a barrier to their studies, while 44.3% of research masters students and 49.3% of professional masters students said the same. Dobbin said no data has been collected for parents of undergraduate students using the Family Care Office.

Dobbin explained that student parents often find it difficult to fully benefit from a post-secondary education due to time constraints and the reduced ability to participate in clubs or activities. The Family Study Space aims to create a sense of community by encouraging cooperation among students who use the space.

The room, located on the ninth floor of Robarts in room 9-002, has a capacity of up to 20 adults and children. Availability is on a first come, first served basis for those who gain free access through the Robarts Library Tile Desk.

In addition, the room includes a variety of toys and children’s seats, as well as equipment for students such as carrels with computers or space for laptops, a screen for presentations or collaborative work and a table. main.

Dobbin said that in his experience, universities that undertake similar projects generally have a higher proportion of mature students, such as transfer students to universities or veterans who returned to school later in the year. life.

While McGill University offered child-focused activity kits to student parents in libraries, Dobbin said the Family Study Space was chosen to more fully meet the needs of students. -parents.

A team including Communications and User Services Librarian Jesse Carliner, User Services Librarian Kyla Everall, Building Operations and Services, and the Family Care Office worked collaboratively to assess an ideal space and determine the elements. design requirements.

Dobbin and Carliner said they received a number of positive messages and tweets from parents of students grateful for the space. As of March 28, 55 students or staff had registered for the space.

“We hope this will start a trend towards more inclusive spaces and services for the family at universities across Canada,” Carliner said.


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