Authored by Amanda DeLong-Carter
This fall, Alden Library will provide additional overnight study space to Ohio University students for the first time since the second floor Learning Commons opened in 2005. This accommodates students who have been voicing their concerns of overcrowding in the Learning Commons after midnight when the rest of the Library closes. Beginning August 28 with the start of the semester, the fourth floor will open 24 hours a day, five days a week. This change will “just about double the amount of overnight work space,” said Scott Seaman, dean of University Libraries.
The efforts for opening an additional floor 24 hours a day, 5 days a week have been in motion for over four years. A great deal of the work, however, has happened behind the scenes. “These projects are very expensive and they’re almost invisible to a student walking in who just really needs late night workspace,” Seaman went on to say.
To help celebrate the new hours on the fourth floor, librarians and staff will kick off the semester on September 6th with snacks, crafts, movies, and even a photo booth. Running from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., students can enjoy “Camp Alden,” a free event inspired by Alden’s frequent overnight patrons “camping out” in the Library to get their work done. Students can eat s’mores in Wolfe Garden, or cozy up in a tent to get an early start to their class work. Alden’s staff will become camp counselors for the night and gear up for what most anticipate as a busy semester at the Library.
Alden has seen a surge in overall usage in the last year. An automated counting system that keeps track of entrances to the building has seen steady increases, but jumped rather drastically in 2016. “For several years, we have had four and five percent increases in student entrances to the building,” Seaman said. In 2016, however, a 23 percent increase in entrances statistically marked what Seaman, and several students believe was evident at a glance. “It’s been quite noticeable that the amount of workspace needed in Alden has been increasing,” he added.
Students tend to agree that there have been space issues at Alden, particularly overnight. Alex Bodnar,a graduate student studying education, sees overcrowding as a potential interruption from school work. “Being packed into one room while studying can make it uncomfortable and distracting for some students,” Bodnar said. Students look to Alden for a productive and relaxing environment, although the criteria to achieve that setting varies individually. Nisha Garud, a Ph.D. candidate studying journalism, prefers to work on the fourth floor near the revolving doors.
“In India, where I’m from, there are 1.2 billion people. There are always people around, there is constant noise… I feel most comfortable working where I can see and hear people,” she said. “I have made friends with others who work and study near the window where I prefer to be.” Garud spends about ten hours a day in Alden, so feeling at home is crucial to her productivity.
A certain ambience encapsulates the Learning Commons after hours, and overnight supervisor Jacob Jakuszeit describes the gradual change from chaos to calm as the night marches on. “First we have frenetic as students find their spaces, borrow laptops, buy coffee, and settle in for a few hours of hard work,” Jakuszeit said. That simmers down rather quickly into a pretty laidback atmosphere. “During the quiet hours of early morning, we have a bit more time to spend one-on-one with students to reassure them that they can succeed,” he stated. Jakuszeit foresees positive changes for the Library. “Alden overnight is entering a whole new chapter, and it is up to the students who come and use their library to decide what that experience will be,” he enthused.
Alden’s staff members are eager to see the fruits of their labor this fall. Jakuszeit feels the passion he has for the Library is shared by his coworkers: “We work at the Library because we love sharing knowledge and connecting student researchers with resources and experts.”
Join us for a late night at “Camp Alden” on the fourth floor of Alden Library. The event is free and open to the OHIO community.