Up All Night With GW Libraries
You see them every night of the week, anytime in the semester: GW students, clutching their Starbucks in one hand and their laptop in the other, climbing the steps to begin their late night study session at Gelman Library. You can find them in their favorite spot—perhaps a carrel on the 3rd floor, an overstuffed chair on the 6th floor, or maybe at a computer in the learning commons—at all hours of the day and night. The one thing you won’t find is a time when Gelman is empty.
During the academic year, both the Gelman and Virginia Science and Technology Campus Libraries are open 24-hours a day, 7 days a week to GW students, faculty, and staff. Eckles Library remains open 24-hours for a limited time during final exams.
Kimberly Shirrell is a typically busy GW sophomore, pursuing a BS in finance with a second major in computer science. She is involved with multiple student organizations and service projects, as well as two on-campus internships. “Gelman has always been an amazing space for students like myself who choose to study instead of party on weekend nights,” she wrote. “Although some of the general population may not be using it at these times, it is not any less important.”
On an urban campus like GW, late night options for study space can be limited. Academic buildings close by 11 p.m. and the Marvin Center closes at 2 a.m., leaving many students with a choice between the distractions of their residence hall room or the library. Gelman provides a safe and comfortable environment for the inevitable overnight sprint to finish a paper or prepare for tests. And when a laptop freezes or a printer dies in the middle of the night, students can count on the library.
Being open 24-hours a day can make managing operations at Gelman a complex endeavor, requiring staff to be present at the entrance and exit desks at all times to keep the building secure. These overnight staff members, who regularly work 9–10 hour shifts, are dedicated to meeting the needs of late-night patrons. These staff members are jacks of all trades, responsible for addressing any problems that might arise, from a surprise building leak to a study room dispute, a computer breakdown, or a distraught student. They also continue regular activities like consortium loan processing and shelving. Housekeepers must be creative to maintain a building in which there is never a time when a vacuum won’t disturb someone.
“We do it for our students,” explained Jennifer Wesson, head of access services, who manages many of the logistics needed to maintain Gelman’s 24/7 hours.
At 11:45 p.m. each night, an announcement is made that the building is closing for visitors. For at least one student, listening to this announcement so many times gave rise to a most unusual request. Graduating senior Brittany Shepherd, CCAS ‘16, made her ask via Twitter, “My graduation goal is to do a live @gelmanlibrary 11:45 p.m. announcement. Can this dream be made possible?” We’re happy to say that the Libraries are a place where late-night dreams come true!