EWFM Library added a meditation spot in the northeast corner of the fifth floor for students to experience a place for peace, prayer, meditation and reflection. (Yufei Zou/B&W Staff)

Meditation, Prayer and Reflection Space opens in Fairchild-Martindale Library


The E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library has added a Meditation, Prayer and Reflection Space, in addition to  the new One Button studio, Lehigh University Art Galleries exhibit and [email protected] 

“It’s not about the stacks, it’s about the students,” said Bruce Taggart, the vice provost for Library and Technology Services.

Wanting a closer, more neutral space on campus than traditional places of worship, students in Lehigh’s interfaith group asked Taggart if the library would be willing to have a safe space for meditation, prayer and reflection. 

Located on the fifth floor in the north wing, the Meditation, Prayer and Reflection Space has couches, mats, cubbies and prayer rugs. 

Taggart said the quiet and calming corner provides a space for students to exhale and relax during busy and stressful weeks of exams and finals.

Open to the public during all library hours, the space is consistent with the library’s mission to promote diversity, said Mark Canney, the manager for lending services at Fairchild-Martindale and Linderman libraries. 

“With so many students spending a lot of time in the library, the space provides a break from academics,” Canney said. “Some students have expressed that meditation or prayer is part of their daily routine”

He said the space helps Fairchild-Martindale Library pursuit truth and excellence. 

There are copies of the Quran, Bible and other religious texts located inside of the cubbies. Paper and pens are provided so students may write notes and reflections. 

Velin Tarkochev, ‘21, the president of the Muslim Student Association, uses the space once or twice a week for daily prayer.  

Tarkochev said it’s convenient for Muslim students to go there and pray. 

“When Muslim students study for several hours, they either have to find their own isolated corner somewhere, or they need to leave the library to complete their prayer,” Tarkochev said. “It’s very nice to have a designated place as a prayer area in the library.” 

Taggart plans for the space to be a permanent fixture in Fairchild-Martindale Library.

The Meditation, Prayer and Reflection Space is an example of the library’s goal to make the environment a more equitable community, he said.  

“It’s pretty rewarding to have the library identified as one of those places,” Taggart said.

The new addition to the library comes a few months after the UnpLUg Zone was unveiled at Taylor Gym, offering a meditation studio for the Lehigh community to practice mindfulness.

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  1. Current Student on

    Why is the library’s mission to promote diversity? I don’t have an issue with this being opened, but since when has a library been dedicated to religious diversity? Maybe it is just poorly worded and this “diversity” push is just some empty phrase used by administration to try to justify their careers at universities, but shouldn’t libraries have the mission to provide information? A library is, ideally, a neutral area where students can be in an environment that fosters learning and education. If this area helps students, that’s great and I support it as a way to reflect and improve ones self. But it is concerning to see the library overcrowded during exams yet hear the administration talk about how “diversity” is their mission at FML.

    • Robert F Davenport Jr on

      To advance learning through the integration of teaching, research, and service to others.

      (Adopted 1992)

      Essential and enduring tenets — a small set of timeless guiding principles that require no external justification; they have intrinsic value and importance.

      Integrity and honesty
      Equitable community
      Academic freedom
      Intellectual curiosity
      Commitment to excellence
      (Adopted 2007)

      Lehigh University is first and foremost an educational institution, committed to developing the future leaders of our changing global society. Every member of our community has a personal responsibility to acknowledge and practice the following basic principles:

      We affirm the inherent dignity in all of us, and we maintain an inclusive and equitable community.
      We recognize and celebrate the richness contributed to our lives by our diverse community.
      We promote mutual understanding among the members of our community.
      We confront and reject discrimination in all its forms, including that based on age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economics, veteran status, or any differences that have been excuses for misunderstanding, dissension, or hatred.
      We affirm academic freedom within our community and uphold our commitment to the highest standards of respect, civility, courtesy, and sensitivity toward every individual.
      We recognize each person’s right to think and speak as dictated by personal belief and to respectfully disagree with or counter another’s point of view.
      We promote open expression of our individuality and our differences within the bounds of University policies.
      We acknowledge each person’s obligation to the community of which we have chosen to be a part.
      We take pride in building and maintaining a culture that is founded on these principles of unity and respect.
      (Adopted 2011)

      Lehigh University prepares graduates to engage with the world and lead lives of meaning. We commit to:

      National and international research prominence
      Learning experiences grounded in fundamental, transferable skills across all disciplines and in real world challenges
      Strategic risk-taking in the presence of opportunity and adversity
      Social, environmental and economic sustainability
      Meaningful connection and partnership with alumni, supporters and citizens around the globe
      A robust return on the investment in a Lehigh education
      A diverse, inclusive and financially accessible environment
      (Adopted 2016)

      Very interesting. Lehigh has no commitment to the country we live in other than to advance learning in it and to respect all who reside in it. The unity mentioned seems only to be a belief in diversity limited only by university policies. I would say diversity should be respected not promoted. “The Meditation, Prayer and Reflection Space is an example of the library’s goal to make the environment a more equitable community, he (Bruce Taggart, the vice provost for Library and Technology Services) said.” The “equitable community” core value has apparently been interpreted as the green light to promote diversity.

      “He (Mark Canney, the manager for lending services at Fairchild-Martindale and Linderman libraries) said the space helps Fairchild-Martindale Library pursuit truth and excellence.” I wish the reporter would have explored this statement more. Diversity now seems to be more of a tool for advancement than a state of being. It seems to be a powerful god that some at Lehigh adore.

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