Thursday, Nov. 30th, Earl Gregg Swem Library unveiled two new energy pods for students, one located on each of the first two floors of the building.
Student Assembly Senator Sean Nguyen ’24 originally proposed a bill for the energy pods in September 2022. After much deliberation, the bill was passed in April 2022. Over a year later, just in time for finals, Nguyen is elated to see his project come to life.
Nguyen identified the need for the energy pods while studying in the Swem Library and Sadler Center. He noticed many students using desks, tables, couches and other library furniture as improvised beds, a glaring sanitary issue as the furniture is not cleaned after each use.
“I think when you walk around Swem Library, you see a lot of students using tables, desks and reclining chairs as makeshift beds. That’s just not too sanitary as you can imagine. One student who’s putting their feet up on a sofa is another student putting their head down as a place to rest for 20, 30 minutes,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen also emphasized the need for energy pods due to the recent expansion of the commuting student driver radius. From 2022-23 to 2023-24, the radius expanded from 30 miles to 60 miles, meaning students would not be required to live on campus if they lived within that radius, according to Nguyen.
“Envision a student who lives 45 miles away. They have no place to sleep, especially if they need to rest in between their classes or their studying throughout the entire duration of the day. There’s no appropriate place for them to take a quick nap if they need to. That’s why they’re opting to use sofas that are unsanitary or chairs, et cetera. So that’s why we’re trying to give them an accommodating space to take a quick power nap and re-energize before moving forward,” Nguyen said.
In making his vision come to life, Nguyen worked closely with Associate Dean of Research and Public Services for William and Mary Libraries Lisa Nickel. Using data on commuter students at the College and students looking to rest outside of their dorms, Nguyen convinced Nickel and Swem Library to come on board for the project. Nickel felt the energy pods were a great option after Nguyen’s pitch and interviewing other libraries about their experiences with the energy pods.
In the past, Student Assembly has worked with Swem Library to provide student improvements such as the massage chairs and treadmill desks. Nickel and Swem’s staff felt the energy pods would be a valuable addition to the existing options in the library.
“These [energy pods are] a great place for students to refresh, reset and take a break – and it sounded like a great use to me.” Nickel said. “We’re excited to have them.”
Though the energy pods were only installed recently, students are already enjoying them, especially with finals right around the corner.
Ella Pan ’26, who normally takes breaks by sleeping on a table or cubicle and taking walks, feels the pods are an effective way to re-energize. She especially likes the cover on the energy pods, making it less awkward for her to rest.
“I really like it. I think it’s really relaxing. I really like the music and how it has a cover, so it’s not awkward to use in the library, because you know, it’s a library and I’m literally sleeping in there. I feel like that’s definitely a very nice place to rest and get your energy back when you’re studying, especially during finals season,” Pan said.
In addition to the library’s existing offerings including the energy pods, massage chairs and treadmill desks, Swem Library partners with the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center during finals season to promote healthy study habits through a Stress Relief Program.
Integrative Wellness Manager Lindsay Heck feels the introduction of the energy pods is an exciting and important addition for student wellness. Heck and the Wellness Center work to provide students with the best resources for wellness, especially during finals.
“Sleep is one of those foundational pieces [of wellness] where you need it,” Heck said. “Especially as we’re coming into the exam period and they hear everyone talking about the late nights that they’re standing there and ‘we’re open 24 hours’ and I know everyone’s on their own schedule, but it’s just so fantastic that they’re there providing that to you because it’s so important that you all are able to get your sleep and preferably in your own bed. But when not, it’s fantastic that you have that opportunity to step into that space.”
Heck mentioned that the Wellness Center also plans to bring art therapy, meditation, yoga and other activities to Swem Library towards the end of the semester.