Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Excercise + Study = Healthy Mind Healthy Body: A Candid Conversation With Dr. Chris Shaffer, Troy University
Here is an interesting idea, go to a library study and exercise while doing it! Believe it or not that is what students at Alabama’s Troy University can now do. I think this is pretty cool and I called on the man behind the idea Dr. Chris Shaffer, Dean of Library Services and Associate Professor at Troy.
Dr. Shaffer what an interesting concept, thanks for letting me speak to you about it here on Candid Conversations.
Dr. C. Shaffer.: Thanks, I am glad to do it.
Cliff T.: This is a bold move, what prompted the idea to bring exercise and study together?
Dr. C. Shaffer.: I read an article about the concept and thought it was a cool idea. The bikes from FitDesk are reasonably priced, so I thought we would put three at our Dothan, AL location as well as three on the Troy campus and see what the response would be.
Cliff T.: From what I have read you have put exercise bikes into two of your libraries that allow students to exercise while they study, this of course done by having a spot where the student can place a book or laptop to use at the same time, what has been the reaction to the bikes?
Dr. C. Shaffer.: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Students, faculty, and our administration have really liked the idea. We were getting a ton of inquiries before we even had the bikes assembled.
Cliff T.: Can you describe the bikes, as in can the speed be adjusted on them etc.?
Dr. C. Shaffer.: They are your standard exercise bikes, but they have a table that will accommodate a laptop computer, or other reading materials. There is a knob that will strengthen the resistance as you pedal. A digital screen lets you know how many calories you have burned, or distance you have pedaled.
Cliff T.: Are you planning on adding more bikes to the current locations and in other libraries that are part of the Troy University campuses? And at which libraries can the students find them?
Dr. C. Shaffer.: Due to the response, we have ordered three more bikes for the Troy campus, and also six elliptical machines that go under desks. Originally, when it was just going to be three bikes, I was putting everything in a relatively small study room. Now, though, we have repurposed a larger space to accommodate all of the equipment. There is room for another six bikes at least should demand present itself.
Cliff T.: Dr. Shaffer do the students have to reserve the bikes, like they would say a computer or books? I am also assuming that a student would have to show student I.D. to use them correct?
Dr. C. Shaffer.: Actually, computers are first come, first serve. For the moment we are doing the same with the bikes. Based on what we observe, a policy will evolve. Some people are worried that users will spend so much time on the bikes that we need to set a time limit, which may happen, but since this is at the least a quasi-strenuous activity, I question whether people will stay on them for hours at a time. As for I.D. cards, we are a state assisted institution, and also a government documents repository, so the public is welcome to use our facilities.
Cliff T.: As I stated at the beginning of our chat, this is a bold move, what is the goal, what are you wanting the student body to take away from this project?
Dr. C. Shaffer.: In all honesty, it never occurred to me that we were going boldly where no library had gone before. The level of interest in this idea has proven me somewhat wrong, at least in the way people perceive libraries. What makes libraries cool is they relate to literally every discipline and interest. There are no limits to what you can do with a library unless you lack all imagination and creativity.
Cliff T.: I bet you have been getting quite the response from outside of the university as well. Did you anticipate such a huge response to the program?
Dr. C. Shaffer.: Never, but what a great thing to have happen. I have so far seen articles comparing what we are doing with a school in Austria, there have been interviews with USA Today, the Huffington Post, and the national radio program America in the Morning. NBC News also requested a statement.
Cliff T.: I know this is a tough question to answer, as for the rest of the world, what would you want the message about the program be?
Dr. C. Shaffer.: I never have just one message. I think one message is to try to lead a balanced life. Troy’s motto is educate the mind to think, the heart to feel, and the body to act. I don’t know that I had ever thought about how profound that truly is until we bought the bikes and started receiving so much attention, which led to a great deal of reflection on my part. However, if you think about it, if you follow the advice in that motto, you will probably have a successful, healthy, and happy life. Another thing to consider though, is this is a statement about libraries not being about the stereotypes they sometimes become. Think of Donna Reed transforming into a librarian (the horror, the horror) in Its a Wonderful Life. That is not what libraries are like today, and that is a large part of the American Libraries current Libraries Transform campaign. Libraries will also be about quiet places to study in part, but they are also places for innovation, creation, discussion, debate, lectures, film series, and yes, exercise.
Cliff T.: I would have to say that this is something I have never heard of or seen before. Have you been getting calls from other schools looking at this idea?
Dr. C. Shaffer.: If you look around the Internet, you will discover we are not the only academic library doing this, but I think it is safe to say it is a cutting edge idea.
Cliff T.: Dr. Shaffer, from the sounds of this is a very personal mission of yours, would I be accurate in that statement and if so in what way?
Dr. C. Shaffer.: I think it might be more accurate to say it is becoming a personal mission. It was an inexpensive experiment that I thought might be well-received. Obviously, I underestimated ever so slightly.
Cliff T.: Dr. Shaffer, I think you have definitely got a great idea off the ground, thanks for speaking with me and my readers here on Candid Conversations.
Dr. C. Shaffer.: Glad to; it’s been fun.
Dr. Christopher Shaffer, Dean of Library Services is bringing exercise and study together at Troy University, where he has brought in exercise bikes to the university’s libraries.
Dr. Shaffer also received the I Love My Librarian award last year, so that might interest you as well: http://www.troy.edu/news/articles/2015/12/troy-universitys-dr-christopher-shaffer-receives-2015-i-love-my-librarian-award.html
Of course Dr. Shaffer wrote to us from Troy University which is located in Troy Alabama.