At 4 AM, the library is nearly silent except for the whirrr of vacuums and the suppressed giggles of tired, delirious students. Tables are crammed with notes, laptops, and, occasionally, a sleeper. This is 4 AM during the library’s inaugural 24 hour opening for finals. In a place normally closed from 1:00 AM through 7:00 AM, the lights here have not been turned off since its closing on the previous Saturday. They will continue to stay on until 6:00 PM on Friday, December 12th.
What kind of students are here at 4 AM? As it turns out, all kinds. Stoney Burks, a history and education major, was just here trying to find a quiet place to read while his roommate plays video games.
While many reported the usual suspect—procrastination—as the primary reason for the early hours, others, like Bethany Skaggs, a junior double majoring in Economics & Finance and Marketing & Management, replied that she prefers studying at night, especially since her days are so busy with other activities.
Another student replied, “I’m just waiting here until my final at 7:00 AM. I’m too scared I will sleep through my alarm if I fall asleep now!”
For many of the students here at this time, it was the quiet that drew them. Marques Ennett, a junior majoring in Economics and Finance, was working alone in a back corner, studying for his finals the next day. “The environment is much quieter at the library,” he replied when asked why he chose to come here. Like other students, he works during the day when he’s not classes. So if he needs to study, he must do it during the late hours.
For students without computers, the library also represented the only place open late to access the research, software, and printers they need to finish assignments. In addition to examinations, projects and papers are also due during finals. “My computer at home is kind of buggy, but this one is not,” said one student, working on a research paper.
Most of the students not at computer desks were found clumped together at tables and within study rooms to help keep each other awake. “I would be asleep if I was in my dorm,” said one night owl. “It helps to be around a group.”
Caitlin Hicks, a freshman majoring in Middle-Level Education sleepily waited across a table for her friend, Kaily Sibrian to finish up an essay.
When they were asked why they didn’t prefer some place like Denny’s to study, Kaily said, “At a food place, I would be more tempted to buy something.”
“It’s too easy to get distracted,” added Caitlin.
One does not often make it to 4 AM on good company alone, however. It sometimes takes caffeine or sugar to keep burning the midnight oil. As a special treat, the campus administration sponsored coffee and snacks during the late hours to help students go that extra mile through the night. Many listed the coffee as the top perk of the evening, both in terms of happiness and in actual metabolic rates.
To the 46 or so students here at 4 AM–and to all other ATU students–we in the Ross Pendergraft Library & Technology Center salute you for all of your hard work this semester. If you’ve got a picture or a story to tell us about studying all night in the library, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post on our Facebook or Twitter pages. We’d love to know your opinions about the 24-hour service, and what we can do to make your final exams a little easier to get through in the future. Best of luck on the rest of the exams, and most importantly, get some sleep!!!