Seven of the 11 Pillar Booths located on the first floor of Hamilton Library, all occupied by students.
Seven of the 11 Pillar Booths located on the first floor of Hamilton Library, all occupied by students.
Lucia Peralta

Pods for people have become popular hideaway study spots at Hamilton Library

UH spent $80,000 to add the amenities

A new way to study — in near silence — at UH Mānoa’s Hamilton Library has become an immediate hit.

A look at the inside of a Pillar Booth, where UH student An Wirth-Yap is getting some homework done. (Lucia Peralta)

Since their installation in August 2023, Hamilton’s Pillar Booth workspaces have become a popular hideaway for both students and faculty alike.

They have an active ventilation system, height-adjustable desks and are crafted from high-quality sustainable materials, said Librarian Clem Guthro, who brought the idea to UH after seeing similar booths in other libraries and airports around the country.

Guthro made his pitch after a dean’s meeting in which Jan Gouveia, the vice president for administration for the UH system, said she was willing to fund small projects that made a difference for students.

“I thought this sort of falls into the same sort of spirit of doing something that would make a difference for students,” Guthro said, “without actually being a renovation.”

The whole project, including 11 Pillar booths along with their accompanying chairs, cost about $80,000. Pillar Booth was chosen, Guthro said, because it offered the best price in comparison to other options.

Elma Sabanovic, a UH student and frequent Pillar Booth user, said that while she was intimidated by the booths at first, they have now turned into her own personal “study bubble.”

She added, “I actually feel like this is like my zone space where I can actually just like shut everything out and just focus on my work.”

Pillar Booth company representatives have been pleased with the response at UH.

“It is also exciting to hear all of the different reasons booths are used in an academic institution,” said Ryan Leavitt, a Co-Founder at Pillar Booth in an email interview. “Use cases include quiet study time, interviews, video conferences and tele-health.”

Encouraged by the positive responses from students and faculty, Guthro said UH would like to get more booths in the future, but he’s not sure where space could be found to put them.

“I’ve had a request from one of the librarians to actually buy more,” Guthro said. “The big issue in this case is not just the money, it’s the floor space. If we get to the point where we can find some space, we will probably do some more.”

Guthro said that if they find the space to get more, he would like to invest in at least one of Pillar Booth’s ADA-compliant booths, which accommodate the space of a wheelchair.

These booths “are typically full from the moment we open until when we close at night,” Guthro said. “Students really seem to like them.”

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