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Feinberg Library Opens Family Study Room

feinberg family room

A new family study room designed to serve students with childcare responsibilities has opened on the third floor of Feinberg Library.

“Students who have caregiving responsibilities have a juggling act that can create impediments to academics,” said Feinberg Library Director Elin O’Hara-Gonya. That may include students who have children of their own, or who have babysitting or caregiving duties.

Room 315 has been outfitted with a desk and computer for student use, toys, books, puzzles and furniture. A large black board lines one wall where dozens of children’s books sit on its chalk ledge. Donated stuffed animals sit on comfy chairs and in bins. There are small white chairs and matching table where children can sit and play. A changing pad and diaper bin were also donated to the room. 

Dolls and toys were donated by O’Hara-Gonya’s 8-year-old daughter, who was clearing out her toy collection. Two of the dolls in the space were donated by O’Hara-Gonya herself, given to her when she was a child.

She said it makes her happy that other children will be able to enjoy her childhood dolls and her daughter’s toys.

O’Hara-Gonya, who was named Feinberg director in March 2022 and who served from 2018 to 2021 as campus Employee Assistance Program coordinator, has always seen it as a mission to serve underrepresented groups on campus. She once had a former student tell her how difficult it was bringing her children to campus, where they are “expected to be seen and not heard.” O’Hara-Gonya wanted to give these students a resource they could use.

As such, she started researching the project last spring. The only other SUNY campus with a dedicated family study room is Monroe Community College, which has two.

O’Hara-Gonya chose the room because it wasn’t being used, and carpeted floors will help with noise levels. Cinder block walls will also help with noise control, she said. Inside the room, sharp corners have been covered and electrical outlets are plugged for child safety.

To access the room, students can stop at the main service desk on the second level for a key. The room has a first-come first-serve policy, and children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Children must be 12 years old or younger, and caretakers are responsible for noise level and tidying the room after use. Guidelines can also be accessed on Feinberg’s webpage here.

For more information, contact O’Hara-Gonya at 518-564-5187 or email [email protected].

— Story, Photo by Communications Intern Olivia Bousquet

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