Keith and Jane and I put out the Stressbusters supplies yesterday afternoon. We have it down to a fine art, now — we know where things work well, and what we have to put out, so we can quickly put the Sudoku on the table by the printer, and coloring books on the center table in the lobby, and the sandbox and zen gardens on the ledge — and so it didn’t take more than 45 minutes to do, with three sets of hands.

For that less-than-three man-hours, what an amazing return.

When I came up from the basement today at 6, having eaten my quick microwaved dinner before my reference shift, I stepped out of the elevator to a library full of stress being busted. Four students were gathered around the table by the printer, armed with colored pencils, collaborating on several Sudoku. Six others were pulled up around the center lobby table, playing with a barrel o’ monkeys and coloring pictures with crayons. Two girls were sitting on the carpeted bench, playing with tinker toys. A student had pulled a stool over to the standing-height table and was thoroughly engrossed in the jigsaw puzzle. Two other students were dropping their backpacks and picking up the mini-putter and golf balls.

Things may get worse in the next ten days. Craziness may ensue as final paper deadlines loom and exams begin and graduation sneaks up on us and grades firm up and dreams get too heavy to bear. But tonight, this building is full of students, working hard, and playing, too. And I like it.

(Even if Holly did report to me that one student needed to be told “the whiffle ball and bat are for use outside on the quad.”)

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