Jan. 28: WSU Vancouver’s Karen Diller to Make Case for Restorative Study Spaces


Karen Diller, associate library director at WSU Vancouver, will present a talk titled “Restorative Library Study Spaces” at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, in Terrell Library, Room 103. Based on her dissertation research, the presentation will explore how library study spaces with a view to nature can be helpful in relieving mental fatigue and supporting effective study strategies.

Diller said she chose her topic for several reasons. First, WSU Vancouver students tend to be nontraditional—holding down jobs and raising families—and are increasingly stressed from financial concerns and additional time constraints.

“We see so many students who rush into the library with limited time or who have problems concentrating because of outside stressors,” she said. “I wanted to find something to help them.

“At the same time, our physical library collections are growing at a slower pace, and our buildings no longer need to concentrate on storage,” she added. “So how should we configure them for what students need?

For her study, Diller surveyed 243 undergraduates from WSU Vancouver and from Emporia State University in Kansas. Participants viewed slides depicting various library study spaces, including space with a view to greenery, space with a view of buildings, space without any window or indoor plants, and space with indoor plants.

Most respondents found the space with a view to greenery to be more restorative than all other spaces, Diller said. They also found this kind of space to be more compatible with their study goals, so they were more likely to come to the library to study more often and stay longer.

“These results lead me to tentatively conclude that maximizing window views of natural spaces may be one of the more universal and successful design principles to use in academic libraries,” Diller said. “So can academic libraries design spaces that help students recover more quickly from mental fatigue so that they can employ successful study strategies? What better place on campus?”