Reflection 3: Hygge in Academia

I decided to tap into “Hygge,” –a concept of feeling belonging to a community, comfortable, cozy, and at home—and apply it to an academic library: Shields at UC Davis (Stephens, 2023). I was inspired by Rebecca Lipsey and Francine Madera’s piece, 100 Great Ideas for the Future of Libraries. I am in no position to manage a project of their size, so I took the concept and scaled it down. Using social media to gather impressions of Shields from students, I asked for a word or phrase they associate with the library. I received a mix of responses that I populated into a word cloud below. Students were my focus as those who utilize services the most because, “Communities—the end-users—need to be drawn into the discussion. Yet so often, decisions about the future of communities are made behind closed doors by a select few with little to no meaningful citizen input.” (Lipsey, 2015).

It’s no surprise that an academic library in the center of campus had “study” as the most common response. Many respondents referenced favorite areas, like the 24-hour study room, reading room, and group-study rooms. This lends to the second most popular word: “spacious.” This response was interesting in that sometimes it was positive and other times negative. Some remarked that its size allowed for easily tucking away, while others reported it was too easy to get lost: “labyrinth” was used more than once.

Seeing repeated phrases of “good” and “helpful” staff was encouraging, as it shows students feel welcomed and accommodated. One cannot experience Hygge in an environment where they feel burdensome. Other specific answers displayed that comfy, cozy feeling by referencing napping, peacefulness, and the sentiment of being a second home.

Many negative themes directly linked to lagging technology and disjointed evolution of the space; “outdated” was the third most common response. Needs not harming a sense of Hygge included uncomfortable chairs, lack of outlets, and slow WIFI. All three are vital for someone spending hours poring over lecture notes and studying.

There were many conflicting responses, which really exemplifies that each patron has different needs and preferences. While planning for every experience is impossible, finding popular themes creates space to consider direction and action needed to foster Hygge and serve the academic population on campus. For Shields, it must find that balance between utility and comfort so that students can work efficiently without an extension cord or feeling like their spine is twisting.


Stephens, M. (2023). Hyperlinked Library: New Models.

Lipsey, R. F. & Madera, F. (2015). 100 Great Ideas for the Future of Libraries.

3 thoughts on “Reflection 3: Hygge in Academia”

  1. Hey Kris:

    This is pretty good. You really showed your understanding of Hygge and how libraries–be they academic or otherwise–can make people feel happy and accommodated.

    You are correct that planning for every experience is impossible–every person is different, and what they might consider to be Hygge to them may not be the same for others–but libraries do try and appease the majority however they can.

    Keep up the good work.


    Aaron Rodgers

    1. Hey ajrodgers! Thanks for the reply. Agreed that aiming to help the majority is an effective tactic, but I think we also need to consider the ethics of justice model. Unfortunately I was already going over the word limit for this post, so I couldn’t squeeze it in. I wanted to expand on the response, “not inclusive” which surprised me. The respondent explained that it was because of a lack of gender-neutral bathrooms; they said they have to walk to another building. For a place to embody Hygge, everyone should be able to at least meet basic needs of using the restroom. It can be important to listen to minority voices so that more people feel safe and welcome, even if they don’t quite align with general majority. That turned into an extra paragraph, but thanks for reading!

  2. @krispy Your findings rock! So many insights. A survey like this might be very helpful for planning changes, updates, etc top the library space. Nice to read good things about staff! For decision making via participation, this is right on target.

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