"There are so many students who struggle to find any other way of having their children looked after while they are studying, so it makes perfect sense!"
Janet Weaver, Head of Library
Staffordshire University has opened a Children's Library offering parent learners more flexibility to study on campus.
Based in the main Thompson Library at the Stoke-on-Trent campus, the facility is the result of discussions with Sociology student Natalie Campbell, who runs the Mature, Parent and Carer Students’ Network at the University.
“I noticed, especially around deadline time, that parents were bringing their young children into the library. We suggested having an area where there is something to occupy young children while their parents work - and here we are today!” she explained.
“A lot of people I've spoken to think it's a good idea, that it's needed. University isn't just for 18 to 21 year olds and this recognises that there is a different demographic.”
The library is funded by a £3,000 grant from Stoke-on-Trent's opportunity area programme and is supported by local literacy initiative Stoke Reads. Staff, students and publisher Harper Collins have donated books and the space features colourful seating, tables and a story chair.
Children are also given their own card to access the library which aims to encourage a love of reading and of learning from a young age.
Charlene Barratt, studying BA (Hons) Business Management, said: “It will make a massive difference. In the evening and at weekends I don't really get much work done and would never have been able to bring my little one to the library.
“It's really nice, there's a wide range of books and I like that there are computers so I can do some work on the computer and she can sit at a table and read or colour.”
The Children's Library officially launched this month and has already proved popular with both students and children. New quiet study areas for students without children have also been opened.
It is one of many steps being taken by Staffordshire University to enhance student experience and cater for its diverse student body. Earlier this year Staffordshire University was named 'most improved' in the Times Higher Education (THE) Student Experience Survey.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Liz Barnes said: "We're delighted that the improvements we are making are being recognised by students. Understanding their behaviours and motivations is important as is recognising the challenges they face - a large percentage of our student community are mature and live at home and access the University's learning facilities in the evenings and weekends."
Head of Library Janet Weaver added: “There are so many students who struggle to find any other way of having their children looked after while they are studying, so it makes perfect sense!
“The very first day I put the books out the children were in. There was a parent in with their children and they came and found it straight away, which is lovely.”
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