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Workout equipment in libraries helps students stay fresh while studying

New machines in Thompson, Health Sciences libraries support campus wellness

As the fall semester begins and students return to The Ohio State University, they will find something new at Thompson Library: exercise equipment.

Library users now have access to a wellness workspace that includes a bike desk, a treadmill desk and two standing desks. All can be found on the main floor of the building.

“This is part of the university’s focus on wellness,” said Nancy Colvin, director of strategic marketing and communications for University Libraries. “We know that is a top priority for Ohio State and we know that physical activity is one dimension of wellness, so we want to make certain that we’re doing what we can to support that here.”

Students can thank Paul Baskin for the new equipment. Baskin, a third-year medical student, was used to working at a treadmill desk during his undergraduate years. He reached out to the University Libraries’ team to see if the same thing would be possible at Thompson Library. He was surprised by how quickly the change was made.

“I just sent an email and they said, ‘let’s have a Zoom,’” Baskin said. “I did not expect it to happen this fast.”

Alison Armstrong, University Libraries’ assistant director for research and education, said she values student input.

“You’re hearing directly from a key constituent group,” Armstrong said. “There are so many students on campus; we try to engage with them and to anticipate their needs. When we hear from them directly, we know we’re heading down the right path.”

Baskin said that for many students, long hours studying can leave little free time for exercise.

“Having this is a nice thing. I can come and walk four miles while I study, then go home. I’ve done two things at the same time,” he said.

In addition to Thompson Library, a second wellness workspace is open in the Health Sciences Library.

“We’ll pilot it [at Thompson Library] for a semester or two, see what usage looks like. We’ll keep track of that and get some feedback from students,” Armstrong said. “We’ll determine whether it’s something we want to expand, keep or relocate to another part of the building or a different part of campus, but we’re pretty excited.”

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