New ‘room’ enhances study and collaborative experience

Installed in January, the donated Kolo Pod stands as a testament to the University Libraries’ commitment to adapt and innovate in response to student needs.
New ‘room’ enhances study and collaborative experience
A student works in the Kolo Pod booth on the first floor of Richter Library. Photo: Creative/University Libraries

On the first floor of the Otto G. Richter Library, a recently installed Kolo Pod is quietly transforming the way students are studying, communicating, and interacting. This initiative is a direct response to the long-standing desires expressed by students for more private study spaces and seating. Focus group work and surveys conducted by Shepley Bulfinch as part of the planning process for a Library System Master Plan have reinforced this sentiment.

The Kolo Pod booth is a pilot project that provides patrons with a private, enclosed, and individual study area, offering them a space to participate in Zoom or online sessions without leaving the building. The interior is equipped with soundproofing panels, allowing for private conversations and video conferencing while minimizing disruption to nearby collaborative study spaces and preserving the existing seat count on the first floor. The Pod contains USB ports and power outlets at table height and floor level for convenient access. Upon opening the door, an overhead dimmable light and a motion-activated fan engage, creating a comfortable environment. More than just a silent booth—the Pod has become a sanctuary for focused learning and virtual collaboration.

“We value student feedback and have implemented a QR code-based survey system inside the unit, allowing us to closely monitor responses and review issues with our Student Government Library Liaisons,” says Cheryl Gowing, associate dean of library facilities, space planning, and organizational development. “We’ve recently added frosted striping on the side glass walls for improved privacy and less distraction, and we’ve introduced odor elimination carpet treatment and air fresheners for a more pleasant experience—all in response to the feedback we’ve received so far.”

What makes the Kolo Pod even more noteworthy is the community effort behind its installation. The booth itself was generously donated by the University’s local furniture-supply partner, Empire Furniture. The interior fittings, including a table and chair, were contributed by the Office of the University Architect, and the carpet overlay was a gift from Ramon Carpet Services, Inc.

“The Pod is a symbol of the community’s commitment to providing the most versatile environment for our students to learn and grow,” explains Gowing. “We are eager to see how the booth is used during its inaugural finals season and hope that pilots such as this will reaffirm the necessity for library renovations and furniture updates that respond to student needs.”

Students are encouraged to take a moment to experience the Pod, fill out the feedback survey, and join us in shaping the future of our spaces and services. If you have any questions about facilities, space planning, and organizational development at the University Libraries, please email Cheryl Gowing at