With the aim of combating exam stress, the UP Library hosted therapy dogs at Hatfield campus over 5, 6 and 7 June.
The idea for the initiative spawned from a trend that was noticed by Elsabe Olivier, the assistant director of marketing at the University’s library, who spoke to PDBY saying, “we saw on Twitter that dogs generate a lot of interest”. Olivier also noticed another trend among international and academic libraries, therapy dogs, something that wasn’t happening in any local libraries.
Initially, the plan was to host the dogs within the Merensky Library at UP but plans unfortunately fell through. Aware of the upcoming exam season, it was decided that “the next best thing is, [during] exam time.” On each of the three days, six dogs along with their handlers assembled on the grass outside Old Merensky. Unfortunately, the dogs could only be around for an hour per day, but each day saw them arriving a little early, drawing in swarms of students.
Many students were ecstatic, with one saying “this is all I need” as Caesar, a four-month-old bull-terrier and boxer mix, sat on his lap. Each day saw different dogs arriving, but Friday saw a giant Irish Wolf Dane steal the spotlight. The dogs were brought in by Top Dogs, a voluntary organisation that specialises in therapy dogs with the aim of “spreading smiles for miles”. Together with the department of library services, Top Dogs combatted the anxiety of students under pressure this exam season. One side effect of the initiative was a sense of home that some students felt. Olivier added that “many of these students are far from home, and we tend to forget that.” The library hopes to host the initiative again during the end year exams in November, with Olivier saying “the library is a lot about high-tech, but also about high-touch” adding that the initiative was in support of the “emotional well-being of students.”