Inclusive process for creating Reflection Room starts with student forums Feb. 28 and March 2

February 21, 2022

Leaders at VCU Libraries are beginning an inclusive process to design a new space at James Branch Cabell Library: a Reflection Room for quiet retreat.

Such rooms, created within bustling academic libraries and other locations on university campuses, are quiet spaces for meditation, prayer, mindfulness practice or for students who seek a stress-free moment away from research, study, or their regular daily activities. Like many academic libraries today, Cabell Library–which allows talking on three floors for collaborative work and a large, busy Starbucks cafe–isn’t always a hushed space. As libraries expand spaces and services to support all students in achieving academic success, reflection or meditation rooms are becoming more common in academic libraries, according to a 2018 article in American Libraries Magazine.  

Working with the VCU facilities team and an architect, VCU Libraries is now inviting input from students on conceptual designs for the new space. 

"We're excited to engage students in the process of refining the vision of this space to ensure it meets the needs of VCU's population,” said Laura W. Gariepy, the associate dean for research and learning. She oversees building operations to best meet student needs. “The opportunity to provide spaces in the library that support wellness broadly -- beyond just academic success -- is an important initiative for VCU Libraries that this project fits into." 

Two sessions are scheduled for student input: 

  •  Monday, February 28, 5-5:50 p.m.  
  •  Wednesday, March 2, 2-2:50 p.m.

To attend these virtual sessions, students should use this Zoom link: 

According to the website description of the project: “VCU, the most diverse university in Virginia, proudly embraces its multifaceted community. Students come from all over the world, fit into all age groups, reflect all income levels and express many faith traditions and spiritual practices. VCU Libraries aspires to provide an appropriate and respectful space for all to engage in the practice of meditation, to seek a wellness or mindfulness respite, to pray, or simply to retreat briefly into a peaceful contemplation space.”

Policies governing the use of the Reflection Room will be developed following best practices for reflection rooms and input from the VCU community. The Cabell Reflection Room will be built using only private funds from philanthropic gifts; no taxpayer or tuition money will be used.


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