Newton Gresham Library offers new resources for student-parents

Being a student-parent comes with unique challenges. Typically, student-parents must work extra jobs to support themselves and their children, while trying to pursue their degree. Juggling childcare with coursework, they often carry greater financial responsibilities than most students.

Realizing that the situations student-parents face often present different needs, the Newton Gresham Library at Sam Houston State University is working to increase support for those students, who sometimes need to bring their children with them while they study.

Research shows that student-parents often have better GPAs than their peers but might fail to complete their degree because of the added challenges in their lives. This also disproportionately affects student-parents of color and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

NGL wants to be part of the solution in helping student-parents graduate at SHSU. Erin Owens, access services coordinator and scholarly communications librarian, has been a strong advocate for making the library a more student-parent friendly environment.

“I once watched a young man change his baby’s diaper on a large, upholstered chair in the middle of the lobby because (at that time) the building had no changing tables. Witnessing that made me request the installation of our first changing tables,” Owens said. “Now, we have large, private family restrooms with changing tables on the first and second floors to ensure our parents feel seen and invited.”

Also in the library, the Mother’s Room is comprised of comfortable soft seating, storage shelves, a refrigerator and a sink. Student-parents can store personal belongings, such as pumping equipment. Additional amenities are expected to be added to this space soon.

Owens also introduced family kits that contain developmentally appropriate toys, books and games to entertain children who accompany parents to the library. There are three kits recommended for different age ranges that may be borrowed from the Service Desk on the second floor.

“When my office was inside the computer lab, I began keeping crayons and coloring pages, because there were often kids sitting at tables in there waiting on their parents. Then, I heard a conference presentation about family kits and decided to create them here,” Owens said.

The library’s third floor includes the Children's & Juvenile Literature Collection. To help keep little ones engaged, the space now features a child-friendly, carpeted reading area perfect for quietly sitting and reading while parents are working.

The NGL offers diverse resources for student-parents, so all Bearkats can find help — whether to entertain, educate or enrich their lives. Check out the NGL website for more information on student-parent resources.

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