Middleton Library now includes a reflection space for students to pray, meditate, or reflect silently. Through research and input from students, the Diversity Committee of LSU Libraries initiated this project for the southwest corner of the fourth floor in Middleton Library.
Elissa Plank, head of circulation at LSU Libraries and a member of the Diversity Committee, suggests that the fourth floor of Middleton Library was chosen to house this space because of its quiet reputation. Students spend time in Middleton studying, researching, and completing homework. This makes the library an important hub for another activity, though—prayer. Plank emphasizes that integrating a designated reflection space into Middleton is necessary because students are praying and reflecting there already. Plank mentions how she approached a student praying in the basement of Middleton Library, “I actually gave him my card. He gave it to the president of the Muslim Student Association, who contacted me and gave input on the space.” The Diversity Committee hopes this provides an inter-faith space to make diverse students feel more safe and welcomed.
Though it is a similar idea to the meditation room located in the LSU Student Union, inspiration for the space came from research on different universities throughout the United States that created similar areas in their libraries for inner-faith meditation. The list of institutions include Clarkson University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, NC State University, Penn State, UC Berkeley, and University of New Orleans. From these other campuses, the committee drew out priorities for the area in Middleton Library. Among these were a inclusive theme, natural light, comfortable seating, and floor space for prayer rugs or yoga mats. The Diversity Committee decided the best area to create a space that included these details, as well as silence, was the fourth floor.
Currently, the reflection area features one bench against each of two walls with a large walk-in space in between the walls. Each bench includes a cubbyhole to store shoes or personal items. The space is located near large windows with natural light, and has a neutral color scheme. While there is floor-space for students to use their own prayer rugs, the only flooring in the space is currently the carpet that is throughout the rest of the fourth floor.
LSU Libraries asks that students abide by its reflection space policy. This space is for quiet prayer or reflection by individuals or small groups. Please refrain from sleeping, studying, or eating in the reflection space.