Different people study differently. Personally, I do my best thinking when I’m in a lecture for another class.
This is a proposal for slightly distracted study. The Topical Table speaks to you at a volume which is only intelligible to those sitting at the table. It has no interface. It is not your personal speaker or your headphones — you choose by being there or not.
The Topical Tables can bring students together around a common interest. Librarians choose what sounds to play – it could be archived audio of a lecture, a favorite NPR podcast… anything they find interesting and want to share.
Asides from the slightly distracted study, the tables have other useful features. I observed that people in reading rooms with long tables will most often tend to sit at far corners from each other, not wanting to encroach upon what they feel to be someone else’s space. By placing a hole down the center of the tabletop, it becomes more like one long counter and decreases the perception of encroachment while also organizing laptop power cords. The beveled ends also assist in making a more communal table.