A place to study, a place to pray: Supporting student spiritual needs in academic libraries

Emily Mross, Christina Riehman-Murphy

Abstract

Have you stumbled across a student using a tucked-away space in your library to pray? Maybe library staff have seen students using a study carrel, a stairway, or even the stacks. Perhaps students requested a space within the library to use for prayer or meditation, and now you provide a permanent space.

At the Penn State-Harrisburg and Abington Libraries, we’ve witnessed students practicing their spirituality with whatever space is available or convenient. Through conversations with librarians at other Penn State campuses and at libraries across the United States, we discovered that our experiences were more common than we anticipated, regardless of the religious or secular status of the school. A number of academic libraries have transformed library spaces into areas for various spiritual practices to create a welcoming environment for all students, embarking into new user-centered territory.

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Copyright Emily Mross, Christina Riehman-Murphy

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