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New Reading Room Opens in Chapel

A Report by Sofia Walker '11

The reading room in the basement of the Chapel is a great place to read contemporary literature or study!

Students seeking a peaceful place to study or relax have a new resource open to them: the reading room just opened in the basement of Helen Hills Hills Chapel. The room features armchairs, sofas, soft lighting and a decorative rug. An antique bookshelf contains a host of books on spiritual and religious topics that students are welcome to browse. Jennifer Walters, the Dean of Religious Life, wanted to create a resource that focused less on history or theology than the library in Bodman Lounge does. "It's good to have a room with contemporary works of spiritual and philosophical literature," she said. "These works are written to address lived problems, and I would like students to find more writing about life that is non-traditional." The selection certainly includes contemporary works, ranging from Elizabeth Gilbert's bestseller Eat Pray Love to Sarah Glidden's graphic novel How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less.

The room used to be a chaplain's office, before the reorganization of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. Office of Religious and Spiritual Life staff member Kim Alston commented that "Redecorating the space was fun and is still in process." The discovery of the bookshelf that houses the new collection was the spark that began the whole project. "There was this piece of furniture just asking to be used," said Dean Walters. "But we're still working on making the space more comfortable." The Office hopes to provide a place of peace for students to reflect and unwind. "If students find their way here, it usually means they're wrestling with something. We want to create a small library of helpful things."