It's not quite 4 a.m. and Arek Kozaczuk and Steven Frad, both junior business majors, are just leaving Mabee Library.
Frad, a management major from Topeka, arrived at 10 a.m. Tuesday and plans to return by 10 a.m. Wednesday after a nap at home. On Tuesday, he left for a final around 1:15 p.m. but was back by 2:30 p.m. and took a break only to buy a Mt. Dew from a vending machine at Henderson Learning Resources Center next door.
"You have everything you need. Everything is in one place," Frad said, hunkered down in the Academic Success Center with Kozaczuk and Kellin Garcia, a sophomore double-majoring in accounting and finance from Kansas City. The room, with walls lined in white board, is great for studying math.
Kozaczuk, originally from Poland, came to the library when he got off work at 10 p.m. to study macro-economics with Frad. The pair met Garcia, who needed some help with calculus, in the Academic Success Center early Wednesday morning.
"I got an A in calculus," Kozaczuk said, so he was happy to help her. She checked in the Academic Success Center for help, she said, "because I basically live here so I knew this was the math tutoring room." Garcia said she gets too distracted to study in her room.
Students like these three are the reason Mabee Library began its continuous hours during finals week in 2009. Increasingly common at colleges and universities around the country and the region, extended hours ensure a quiet place to study for finals, finish papers or collaborate on projects.
"This is a positive event for students," said Sean Bird, assistant dean of libraries. "For libraries in the 21st Century to be relevant, we must be about more than books. The first thing we can do is to make people the center of our service. That's what this is. It's about recognizing students need a place to study, to do research, and their schedule is different than it has been throughout the semester. We're willing to alter our schedule to meet them in the middle."
At 3 a.m. Wednesday there were 45 people at Mabee, down from 142 at Midnight. At Midnight Tuesday there were 124 people studying, down to about half a dozen between 5 and 7 a.m. During the regular semester, the library is open until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. Since continuous hours began on Sunday at 6 p.m., there have been at least three students in the library at all times. The library will close at 6 p.m. Friday, at the same time the Residence Halls close for the semester. Until summer classes begin on May 28, the library will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Cal Melick, public services librarian, was at the Mabee Library information desk at 3 a.m. Wednesday.
"There's always a few diehards," he said. "When you think about it, Washburn has 7,000 students. Hopefully the others are studying at home."
Melick arrived at 5 p.m. Tuesday for his library shift and said he was impressed with the turn out for the Washburn Student Government Association's free pizza and ICEEs on Tuesday evening. He said the line was very long. So long, Frad said, that he didn't bother stopping his work to wait for food.
Garcia had a different approach: "It was free dinner" that allowed her to keep her nose to the grindstone.
At 4:30 a.m. she was still there, working with a group of friends in one of the library’s booths. She said: "I'm tired."
Michaela Saunders, university relations, 785-670-2154, during the day
Sean Bird, Mabee library, 785-670-1550, during the day Wednesday
Editor’s note: The busiest time has been from midnight to about 3 a.m. with attendance falling off to near single digits by 4:30 a.m. The librarian at the information desk when you arrive will be able to give you the night’s count. Wednesday’s night librarian, 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., will be Martha Imparato. Thursday morning’s librarian, 4-8 a.m., will be Elise Bilas.