Learn how we transformed library space into a haven for exam-time studying and relaxing 

Looking for a new way to support students during the stress of exam period, Cynthia Wright, a learning strategist and the coordinator of the Student Learning Commons (SLC) in Surrey, landed on the idea of the Chill Lounge. 

A space designed for students during exams 

“It came out of the awareness of how stressed students are during finals … and from seeing students falling asleep in chairs in the SLC Surrey,” Wright shared. 

In spring 2023, she transformed the Student Learning Commons space in Fraser Library at Surrey campus to become a chill, cozy space to relax and study – or nap – during exams. Popularity grew as she hosted it again for the fall exam period. Now, as the Fraser Chill Lounge is preparing to open again for the current exam period, it’s also expanding to Bennett Library at Burnaby campus. 

For Wright, the Chill Lounge is a way of acknowledging students holistically during periods of academic stress: “A place to be supported in both their studying, but also in achieving balance between their studies and mental/physical/emotional health. It shows them that SFU sees, and supports, them as a wholistic individual.” 

Cozy vibes – and significant impact on students

Colourful wall hangings, a bead curtain, cozy table lamps and fairy lights, and comfortable seating give the physical space an appealing and relaxing 1960s ambiance. It also features LoFi beats and monitors with puppy and kitten cams, provides free tea and hot chocolate, and offers activities for de-stress and relaxation such as colouring books and puzzles.  

The student appreciation for this supportive lounge space is evident in whiteboard comments full of accolades and gratitude from students, commenting on the cute, cozy, relaxing vibes, and sharing thanks for the hot chocolate and tea. 

As an example of the positive impact of the space, one student commented: “This has been one of the hardest terms for me, but this place is single handedly getting me through my 4 finals. THANK YOU!!!” 

Bringing in new ideas and expanding to other campuses 

Wright acknowledges the support of her colleagues in providing decor, as well as keeping the tea and hot chocolate stocked, and the puppy cams running all day. She also likes to keep the space fresh each semester. “I’ll try to change things a bit each term, but that really depends on the feedback from students, what they like or want more of,” she shared. “Last term I added a floor puzzle and told students to time themselves in completing it. We’ll see what inspiration hits this term.” 

One brand new thing for this semester is that the Chill Lounge is expanding from Surrey campus to Bennett Library in Burnaby. Ruth Silverman, a learning services coordinator in the SLC, recounted feeling inspired when she visited Fraser Library’s Chill Lounge. 

“Right away, the ambiance told me that the Chill Lounge was where I wanted to be,” she shared. “I did most of my work that day relaxing in a comfy chair in the Chill Lounge. My own experience with the space inspired me to bring the cozy and chill vibe to students based at Burnaby." 

As stress levels rise during exams, Wright and Silverman hope that the unique space of the Chill Lounges will help to support and sustain student success and wellness. 

 Donate to the Chill Lounge

Do you have any donations in good condition, such as bead curtains, lava lamps, bean bags, footrests, cushions, throws, blankets, or rugs? We’d be grateful for your donations to the Chill Lounge. Contact us at learning-commons@sfu.ca. 

The Chill Lounges are open during the Spring 2024 exam period at Surrey campus (in the Student Learning Commons inside Fraser Library) and Burnaby campus (Room 3008 in Bennett Library). 

Spring semester