23 Jul 2018


Highly Commended post in the Conul Training and Development Library Assistant Blog Award 2018. 
This post is by Maureen Finn, Maynooth University Library 

“A nap, anyone?” This is not a typical question one expects to hear asked in a busy academic library but that’s precisely what students at Maynooth University Library are asking these days following the recent installation of two EnergyPods on campus in the library.

This is a first for academic libraries in Ireland and was the brainchild of a first year undergraduate student at the University. The library Innovation Team ran a campaign during the 2016/2017 academic year called “If Students did libraries”, asking students to come up with novel or innovative ideas that could be incorporated into the library in order to improve service or enhance user experience. What people are better placed than students themselves to tell us how we could improve things in the library!

A social media and marketing campaign was launched in September 2016 with a ‘Dragons Den’ final in February 2017. Students submitted ideas, which were shortlisted by the Library Innovation Team, then they attended an in-house session run by the University’s Department of Design Innovation, which helped formulate their idea, work on their pitch and practice it.

Cathal McCauley, University Librarian, launching the Competition
© Maynooth University Library

In February 2017 the shortlisted entries pitched their idea to the panel of “Dragons” - Cathal McCauley, Maynooth University Librarian; Dr Alison Hood, Maynooth University Dean of Teaching & Learning; Dr Sandra Collins, Director of the National Library of Ireland; Lorna Dodd, Head of Academic Services at Maynooth University Library, and 2017 Maynooth Students’ Union President Dillon Grace.

Judging panel: L-R Lorna Dodd, Dillon Grace, Cathal McCauley, Dr. Alison Hood, Dr. Sandra Collins             
© Maynooth University library

After a rigorous pitch and judging, the winner was Brian Crinion, a first year undergraduate in Robotics & Intelligent Devices. Commenting on his win, Brian said:

      “I came up with the idea while I was trying to find a healthy way of balancing my long 
       commute to university, my classes and my extracurricular activities. I looked at 
       the benefits of short napping during the day, and researched ways of fitting 
       them into student life. The EnergyPods were the perfect solution.”

Cathal McCauley, University Librarian, presents winner Brian Crinion with a cheque
©Maynooth University library

His leading-edge proposal for the installation of EnergyPods in the library was seen as a clear winner and it has the added value of a nod (no pun intended) to the new Critical Skills element of the curriculum on offer to all undergrads here at Maynooth University. This enrichment of the undergraduate offering is intended to encourage creativity and entrepreneurship, while fostering critical thinking together with developing analytical and evaluation abilities, thereby better preparing students for the world of work and beyond. 

A view of the two EnergyPods in the library
Picture by Alan Monahan @Maynooth University Library

So how do the EnergyPods work? The work weary student reclines under a privacy visor in the Pod while listening to soothing music on the built in speaker system. An interface on the chair allows the time to be set to 20 minutes (the duration of a nap) and an alarm sounds when the time has elapsed.

Instructions on how to use the EnergyPod
Picture Alan Monahan @Maynooth University Library
The control panel on the Energypod chair
Picture Alan Monahan @Maynooth University Library

The location chosen for the Pods in the library is an important element - why?. They are situated close to a glazed atrium that spans three storeys, overlooking an internal planted area where graceful palms and peaceful lilies grow, which further enhances the zen-like ambiance. Added to this is the tranquil vista out towards the beautiful historic buildings and well-maintained gardens of St. Patrick’s College, while the clock on the adjacent Church tower chimes out the hours of a busy day as the sun tracks its’ path westward across the sky. Who could resist nodding off in such a calm setting?

Internal Atrium in the library planted with greenery
Picture courtesy of M. Finn

Getting back to the Pods… there was great excitement at the time of their installation with Press reporters, photographers and curious on-lookers all vying for a peek at these new-fangled machines. The Irish Times, the Irish Examiner, and RTE television, featured the event, garnering high-profile exposure for one of the many enhancements Maynooth University has made to its’ campus in recent times. Head of Academic Services at Maynooth University Library, Lorna Dodd, said:

                “The EnergyPods will be a wonderful addition to our library services. Brian 
                  really impressed the judging panel with his creative concept and 
                 excellent research to support his proposal. We are sure the EnergyPods 
                 will be of great benefit to our students.”

User reclining in an EnergyPod at MU library
Picture by Alan Monahan @Maynooth University Library

The Maynooth University Library Innovation Team, comprising of staff from across the library, won the inaugural Presidents prize for their work in making this cutting edge concept a reality and overseeing its’ incorporation into the library’s array of services and supports for students. Commenting on the awards, President of Maynooth University, Professor Philip Nolan said:

             “I am constantly impressed by the high calibre of work undertaken by 
              colleagues across this institution—whether it be strikingly original research; 
              innovation and commitment in University support services; or dedicated 
              and engaging teaching practice and development.” 

Can’t wait for next year’s competition! In the meantime, I think it’s time for a nap ….


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