UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In 2019, staff at Penn State’s Berkstoun Library noticed an increase in anonymous responses about mental health challenges on the library’s student engagement board. Topics range from substance use issues and time management to sleep quality and motivational challenges. Inspired by the offer of help, librarians sprang into action and partnered with Berks Campus Counseling Services to create a wellness collection at Berks Stuen Library.
As a top-10 academic research library, Penn State Libraries has a long history of helping students discover, evaluate and utilize the information they need for academic success. But university libraries also organize collections and resources to help students build positive mental health and healthy habits for future success.
The response from students at Berkstoun Library echoes research conducted by the American College Health Association – more than half of today’s college students report feeling sad, anxious or overwhelmed at some point during their studies. But research also shows that tools like leisure and entertainment reading can reduce perceived stress, blood pressure and heart rate, and may be beneficial in improving mental health and well-being.
“Fun reading is a great way for students to relieve the stress of daily life,” said Monica Gingerich, student experience and engagement coordinator for Library Learning Services. She said the University Libraries’ Leisure Reading Collection offers a wide selection of new, rotating fiction and nonfiction titles, available through the library catalog at various locations in Patty and Paterno Libraries and other campus locations Browse. Additionally, a growing selection of leisure e-books and audiobooks can be downloaded through the Libby app.
At Berks Thun Library, an all-hands-on-deck approach is the foundation of its wellness collection, which has grown to more than 300 titles covering a range of issues addressing student wellness, said Alexandra Chisholm, reference and instruction librarian at Berks Thun Library. The subject of the question. Campus library.
“The collection is located in close proximity to our new sensory room, so it attracts a lot of foot traffic from people seeking a restorative environment,” Chisholm said, adding that the collection is located in a secluded area of the library to facilitate private browsing and reading. Observations by staff are intentionally limited. Nearby exhibits showcase rotating themes from the collection, such as finance, society, nutrition and sexual health.
Penn State Beaver Campus Libraries created wellness collections to highlight students’ exploration of the mind-body connection, increase overall well-being and enhance learning outcomes, said Amy Deuink, dean of Penn State Beaver Campus Libraries. .
“The Wellness Collection brings together practical ‘self-help’ books on personal care, mental health, wellness and learning, organized by topic in one place for easy browsing,” says Deuink.
Deuink said the Beaver Campus Library also encourages recreational reading to relieve stress through the community-wide Beaver Reading Challenge, which celebrates reading for fun by setting personal reading goals and tracking progress to create healthy habits.
Although each Penn State Libraries campus location has personalized resources and collections, any book from the University Libraries’ leisure reading or wellness collections can be accessed through the library’s catalog regardless of its physical location, and any Have a current Penn State user ID.
To start reading ebooks, audiobooks, and more on your phone or tablet, download the Libby app and log in with your account Penn State Account User ID and Password, Or click here for more tips and additional information.
Supplemental LibGuides and related resources on a variety of student health and wellness topics are available through the following links:
- Penn State Libraries Personal Wellness and Mental Health LibGuide, For students, faculty and staff interested in personal health and mental health.
- Pennsylvania State University Libraries Health LibGuidefor access to health information by subject and course guide.
- Digital Health Workshoppart of the Penn State Berks Privacy Workshop Series and the Paws of Success Workshop Series.
- Wellness Center at Penn State’s Berkstoun Libraryto support students’ knowledge, skill development and habit formation in areas such as physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health; relationship building; time management; self-sufficiency; and other “adult” issues.
- Stress Relief Party Provides stress-reducing games and activities to help students relax while studying for exams and completing final papers and projects. The 2023 Fall Stress Relief Festival will be held Tuesday, December 5, through Thursday, December 14, at various locations on the University Park campus. For more information about Stress Relief Festival, please contact Megan Gilpin at [email protected].
“The University Libraries’ health collection recognizes the issues experienced by many college students but is not intended to replace professional counseling or medical care provided elsewhere on campus,” Duink said. Troubled students who need someone to talk to are encouraged to contact Counseling and Psychological Services and visit the Division of Student Affairs’ Mental Health Services and Support webpage for additional resources.
To learn more about the University Libraries Student Health Fund, contact Gretchen Little, associate director for alumni and donor relations at Penn State Libraries, at [email protected].