Lactation station coming to Morris Library


Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms

Caroline Simmons, a senior from Port Byron studying architecture, uses a jig saw to cut out a space for outlets in the new lactation station’s interior panels Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, during an independent study class in the woodshop of Quigley Hall.

By Marnie Leonard

An addition to Morris Library will soon give new mothers their own space to nurse and pump breast milk in privacy.

The room, which will be on the library’s third floor, is meant to meet the needs of SIU students, faculty and staff who need to breastfeed or pump between classes and study sessions. It is designed to accommodate one person at a time, and will lock to ensure privacy, said Deborah Barnett, assistant dean of students.

The project, which will cost about $20,000 by the time it’s completed, is paid for with the Green Fund, which is a portion of student fees. The goal is to have the ribbon cutting for the space early in the Spring 2017.


Barnett said most breastfeeding mothers have to make special arrangements to find a private space. She said Morris Library was chosen because of its central and convenient location for students.

Because most working mothers and students only get limited time off after having a child, many struggle to find a place to pump at school or work, said Laura Morthland, an architecture professor involved with the project.

“This can be an awkward situation to be in,” Morthland said. “This is designed to accommodate that.”

The student-led project began in the Spring of 2014 after a community nutrition class conducted a needs assessment study of the campus, Barnett said.

Once it was established that SIU students needed a lactation room, Barnett said she approached the School of Architecture with the project. Working in a classroom setting, architecture students put together several designs and proposed them to Barnett’s office.

“This served as a real world opportunity for our architecture students,” Barnett said. “Not only did they make the designs, but they presented them to the client.”

Zoey Koester, a senior from Springfield studying interior design, left, saws the interior panels of the new lactation station with help from Shelby Orr, a senior from Savoy studying architecture, on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, during an independent study class in the woodshop of Quigley Hall. “Especially during this time of the financial deficit, [this project] is showing that our program is still strong,” Koester said. “We’re learning what we need to in order to accomplish things in the field. It’s also helping the non-traditional students, those who are minorities on campus, the mothers, and showing our diversity.” (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

Green Fund projects are required to advance campus sustainability, which Barnett said the lactation space does socially, economically and environmentally.


Breastfeeding prevents malnutrition, improves a child’s long term health, requires no packaging, shipping or disposal and provides a naturally renewable source of food for babies. It also helps reduce healthcare costs and is affordable for families regardless of socioeconomic status, Barnett said.

The Green Fund application was approved and construction on the room began earlier this semester. The money goes toward designs, materials and all changes made to the existing space. Barnett said the lactation space will add two walls to two existing walls, creating a new room.

The independent study class that is working on the project is made up of six senior students — two studying architecture, two studying interior design and two studying construction management. All have been involved since the project began in 2015.

Though the six are from different fields, all have participated in the design, construction and presentations of the project.

The exterior walls of the space have already gone up and the students are currently working to finish the interior walls of the space, making them in the woodshop of Quigley Hall and transporting them to the library.

Zoey Koester, a senior from Springfield studying interior design, said her goal was to create a relaxing environment with soft-lighting and comfortable furniture where mothers could feel at ease while pumping. Inside there will be an armchair, bench, side table and a lamp.

The walls will be made of acoustic panels that absorb sound, Koester said. This is in response to a concern that babies and breast pumps inside the room would disrupt the quiet of the library. The hope is that this would also further preserve the mother’s privacy.

There won’t be a fridge or warmer for the breast milk because the room’s purpose is as a place to pump, not store. Barnett said if students have refrigerated bags there are lockers inside the library where milk can be kept.

Barnett said the room adds to the services SIU already provides for parents on campus, such as childcare and family housing. The lactation room will neighbor the family study room in Morris Library, where parents studying with small children can get schoolwork done.

“We’re doing everything we can to support the continuing education of parents at SIU,” she said.

Caroline Simmons, a senior from Port Byron studying architecture, said after being involved with the project for so long, she’s excited to see it completed.

“I can’t believe it’s almost done,” Simmons said. “It’s really real now.”

Staff writer Marnie Leonard can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @marsuzleo.

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