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A safe haven

Late-night studying at Belk Library

by Marlena Chertock, March 17, 2010

Late night building monitor Dwight Davis and sophomore Kristen Van Fleet often work together during their late night shifts at the library. Photo by Marlena Chertock.

While your high school librarian may have always shushed students, this is not necessary in Elon University’s Belk Library.

The atmosphere remains hushed and respectful.

Students can be found typing papers, reading and studying in the library until early-morning classes. Most computers are occupied until around 2 a.m.

Some students choose to use the private rooms. They close the door, spread out their books, notes and laptop on the table, tune into their iPod and prepare for an undisturbed night of studying.

Late night building monitor Dwight Davis said there are private rooms, study lounges and computer labs that students can use.

There are systems in place to maintain order and a sense of calm throughout the library, which remains open all night.

“There is always someone at the information desk,” said sophomore Kristen Van Fleet, who works late-night shifts at the library.

Van Fleet most times works alone because recent budget cuts allow for only one person to work the desk at a time.

Van Fleet said the library is usually quiet at night. The noise level is higher during the day, she said.

“We’re not in high school,” Van Fleet said. “People are not trying to be dramatic. Kids are just letting everyone do their own thing. Everyone knows how much work everyone else has to do.”

During midterm and final exams students can be found studying in the library all night, according to Van Fleet.

“It’s like going to church on Christmas,” she said. “People who don’t normally come here will live here.”

Photo by Marlena Chertock.

Davis agrees that more students use the library during exam time. He said around 150 to 200 students are in the library at night.

“But usually around 2 a.m. it starts dwindling down quick,” he said.

Students sometimes stay in the library up until 8 or 9:25 a.m. classes, Van Fleet said. She said students often take naps or pass out on the couches.

“Pretty much all we don’t have is showers,” she said.

Freshman Soren Klaverkamp said he goes to the library Sunday to Thursday nights.

“It makes me more focused than in my room,” said Klaverkamp, who added that he remains in the library on average until 2 a.m. “It puts me in the right mindset and it feels like the right place to do work.”

Klaverkamp said he never stayed in the library all night but stayed until 6 a.m. with a 10:50 a.m. class.

The library could be described as a safe haven, according to Davis.

“For the most part we don’t have any problems,” he said.

But that safe haven can sometimes be compromised.

For security reasons the library closes earlier for non-students, according to Davis. Community members must leave at 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and by 5 p.m. Friday to Saturday.

“Certain incidents happen from time to time,” Davis said. “Last year we had a gentleman that tried to make like he was a student here. When I asked for his ID, he confessed he had been lying and I had to escort him out.”

Davis makes announcements so people in the surrounding community know when they have to leave. He also announces when the second and third floors and circulation desk close, around 1 a.m.

After the circulation desk closes, books and DVDs cannot be checked out.

The staff members who work late night shifts are more personable, according to Van Fleet. She said she enjoys the late night shift.

“We talk to each other,” she said. “(Davis) comes and talks to me because there’s nothing else for him to do. He comes over, he says, ‘How are you? How was your day?’”

Van Fleet said she is able to work late because of her sleeping schedule.

“I have a much different sleeping schedule,” she said. “I can stay up a lot later. I do four hours (of sleep) sometimes.”

She said she is a night person. Red Bull and coffee get her through the shifts, she said.

“Sleep is overrated,” Davis said.

Davis stays at the library from 11:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. on Sunday to Thursday.

To remain awake for his shifts he said he works out a lot. He said he is usually at the gym three to four times a week.

“I try to treat my night as my morning,” he said. “I will lay down late afternoon so when I get up it’s like that’s my morning.”