Libraries are usually homes of research and schoolwork, but a new wellness committee hopes to bring new activities to the UF Smathers Libraries.

The Smathers Libraries Wellness Committee is bringing nap pods, pedal desks and other wellness technology to its libraries, said Melissa Rethlefsen, the associate dean of Health Science Center Libraries and Fackler director of health.

The committee was formed by George A. Smathers Libraries in December 2019. Rethlefsen said it will focus on library wellness initiatives this semester to reduce student stress and burnout. 

“The primary objective of the wellness committee is to combat student burnout through mental and physical health,” she said. “Students will see most of committee work this semester around midterms and finals.”

She said the committee’s short-term goal for student wellness is to combine individual library resources so Smathers Libraries will have uniform wellness events among all the libraries during testing weeks.  These events include meditation sessions, therapy dog visits, yoga classes and crafts. Its long-term goals include spreading wellness resources, like pedal desks and nap pods, to all Smathers libraries on campus.

The committee is also currently working on a survey for library staff to address their wellness needs, Rethlefsen said.

“The committee is supposed to serve the wellness needs of the students, faculty and our staff for whenever they enter our libraries,” she said.

Another committee was formed in Fall 2017 for the Health Science Center Library, but the new committee is focused on bringing these resources to Smathers Libraries, said Ariel Pomputius, leader of the Health Science Center Library’s wellness committee and representative on the Smathers Committee. 

She said the committee also received a grant to get portable treadmills to put underneath standing desks for students to walk and study, which is expected to arrive this Summer.

Wellness tools such as puzzles, wellness books, fish tanks, bike desks, under-desk pedal exercisers and nap pods were put in the Health Science Library in Fall 2017, Pomputius said.

The two nap pods at the Health Science Library are massage chairs with an egg-shaped dome that can be pulled over the chair to block out outside light. Once encased, users can put on supplied noise-canceling headphones that play meditative music, and the user selects the nap length and the music on the panel in the chair’s arm.

“With wellness tech, it is important to remember that everyone approaches wellness differently,” Pomputius said.