How I survived 24 hours in the library

I got a Domino’s delivered, had a mild breakdown, but got all my work done

24 hours birmingham birmingham university deadlines exams library students study tab tab birmingham tab brum university university of birmingham work

This week the library goes 24 hours, and it stays open all hours until the end of exams. Now, for the majority of students this seems a tad odd. What kind of student is so unorganised, so behind in their assignments, so deranged, that they would rather do a 24 hour stint in the library than just do their work at a normal time? This piece of shit right here, that’s who. I can’t work at all at home, I’ve got three very pressing deadlines and well, I kind of thought it would be a laugh to see if I could spend 24 hours in the library. So that’s what I decided to do, and because this is probably the dumbest/ most genius thing I’ve done, I compiled the stages of my hellish mission as I went, so if anyone else fancied trying this out they would know what they were in for.

Stage 1: Get Prepared (Before)

Although you’ve never been prepared in your life before, now is the time to get your shit together. 24 hours is gruelling and will push you to the limit. You need snacks. You need 3 litres of water. You need a hoodie and a blanket. Maybe a pillow. You need a book, because yes, you’re allowed breaks. You need about 6 energy drinks and a supply of ProPlus which is probably going to give you a heart attack around the 16th hour, but hey ho at least then you can get extenuating circumstances. You also need a list of tasks, which you aren’t allowed to leave without completing. I find it helpful to include fun tasks as well on the list, like write an article for The Tab, that way even your procrastination breaks feel productive.

You also need to shower. Can’t stress this enough. The last thing you want is for your own B.O. to put you off working. I’ve been there, and it’s not a fate I wish on anyone. You can also make the decision to go comfy or dress for success. I tend to find I work better when I look good, so I plan on stepping into that library like I’m stepping onto a runway, but I’m told this is a rare disposition, so probably best I recommend comfy clothes at this point.

You also need to select your 24 hour window. I don’t fancy walking home in the dark, and I hate getting up early, which is why I’ve selected 12 o’clock midday on a Friday for the start of my stint.


Bring it on, bitch

Stage 2: Say goodbye to the world (12:00)

Entering the library, I feel a wave of calm and excitement. By viewing the 24 hours as a marathon, I’ve basically unearthed my stubborn, competitive side which hasn’t reared its head since family Monopoly in 2014.

I can do this and I will do this.

Go up to my reserved computer, because I’m an organised bitch. Ignore the fact it’s third year and I’ve only just realised you can book computers. 2 hours later and I’m bossing it. Application for masters submitted, won a text argument with a family member and replied to my important emails. This is going to be fine.

I made the decision at this point to take a well deserved fag break. I may have quit for 2 months but when it comes to doing work, there’s nothing that motivates like a cigarette. Obviously, unless you are a seasoned smoker and have lungs that are essentially made of tar at this point, I don’t advise you to follow this part of the 24 hour library plan. Please be better than me.


Lists are an essential

Stage 3:  The Switcheroo (15:00)

You are going to get bored. The library is not what one would describe as a buzzing social environment and it is physically impossible to stay in one seat for too long. Get up. Move. I now move to zone 1C because it’s bright in here and reminds me less of deadlines and death than all the other rooms in the library, but you may have your own preference. There’s not really a good room in the library, so pick the best of a bad bunch. Kind of like in the election. (Look at me, making political jokes, I am going to ace my essay)

Stage 4: I WANT TO GO HOME (18:30)

How did we all believe the Library Hermit? For those too young to remember, back in the exam season of 2014, a Facebook page appeared, claiming to be a student who had fucked up so colossally he was going to live in the library for the entirety of his exam period. We were all duped, and it turned out to be one of best hoaxes ever created. I am 6 hours in, and I know now that there is no way in hell that could have happened. I’ve eaten all of my snacks and I feel so tired I may crack into my energy drinks 6 hours before I planned to. I can’t leave now though, I’ve already told people I’m doing this. It’s on my snapchat story. You can’t lie on snapchat.

library hermit

Campus legend


Stage 5: SALVATION IS HERE (18:45)

Just when I am about to pack it all in, give up on the journalistic feat of the year, my hero friend arrives and brings me a Costa. You really need a friend at some point in a library stretch. They can get you through anything and honestly just having a five minute conversation makes me believe I can do another six hours.  The other 12 is going to be a fucker though.

Stage 6: Shit. (20:00)

I shouldn’t have had the coffee. I need to do a poo. I can’t poo in the library, that’s where people learn. It seems rude somehow, like I’m shitting on great literature or the works of Karl Marx. I wouldn’t shit on Marx, I love him. I can definitely hold this another 16 hours.

Stage 7: Will Dominoes deliver to the library? (21:30)

I’ve eaten all my snacks and basically chugged a can of Monster Assualt. I still have 14 hours to go. Only one thing for it. Let’s find out if Dominoes will deliver to the library.

Stage 8: Dominoes will deliver to the library! Hallelujah (22:15)

I meet a very confused pizza delivery man outside the steps of the library. He seems confused but not too annoyed and I get to enjoy a pizza in the library at 10pm on a Friday. #wild



Stage 9: Contemplating the alternatives (23:10)

If I left now, I could go the the 24 hours Tescos, get a bottle of wine, neck it and be in Propaganda within the hour. I could be belting out pop-punk tunes and doing shots with strangers, not trying to prove that there is a fourth wave of feminism. Fuck I miss Props.

It’s at this point I am left alone again. My friend is much smarter than I am and is not going to keep me company on my 24 hour marathon. It takes all my energy not to leave with her, but I power through. Nearly half-way.

Stage 10: HALF WAY BITCHES (00:00)

The energy drink has kicked in. I feel like I’ve taken some really bad MD. I am definitely going to crash soon, but on the plus side, I’m half way there! 12 hours in the library! That’s longer than I managed in the whole of first year.

On the other down side, we are in Shit 2.0 situation. Not only have I still not had that shit from earlier, the energy drink has essentially made my bowels a ticking time bomb. This cannot end well.

Stage 11: Ghost-Town (01:30)

Somehow, I am not the only person left in the library. There are 3 other mad people who are still here too. I’ve come up with interesting back stories for them all because it’s 1:30 in the morning and I’ve descended into a sort of energy-drink fuelled madness. This is the kind of shit you have to do to keep your mind active when on this kind of intense study hype. I’m convinced the girl opposite me is a first year art-history student called Miranda who is taking it all a bit too seriously. I almost want to yell at her to get out and go to Propaganda whilst she’s still young and free, but that would definitely be weird. I stop myself. We haven’t quite hit that level of night-time weirdness yet.


Empty chairs at empty tables

Stage 12: Complete and utter re-evaluation of life choices (02:30)

This by far the dumbest thing I have ever done for an article. Has it really come to this? Have I genuinely become so strapped for ideas and so bogged down by the stresses of my degree I am in the library at half two in the morning? Maybe I should just go back to writing about my vagina again. That seemed to work out alright. Maybe I should have done more work in first year. Maybe I should just pack it all in, move to Asia and find myself. Who needs a degree anyway?

Stage 13: Seriously, what the fuck Birmingham? (03:30)

Now I knew I wasn’t the only fuck-up at this university, but I am shocked by how many of us there seem to be. It’s half three in the morning. Why aren’t you all in bed? We can’t all have really self-indulgent articles to write surely? There is one girl who seems to be walking around half drunk and tearful, why are you in the library at this hour? I want to ask her if she’s okay but she kind of scares me a little. If I die tonight, I will be 90% sure she did it. There’s a guy who has just been watching sports for the past two hours. Why he couldn’t do that in the comfort of his own home I’m not sure, but he seems happy.

Stage 14: FINISHED (04:00)

I have finished my dissertation. I’m so tired and delirious I can’t tell if it’s utter shite or if I’m one of the great minds of the new feminist era. The point is it’s finished. Well, I still have to reference and all that jazz, but it is done.

The thing is though, this is third year. You are never finished. There’s always something else. And some complete idiot decided I should have a 3000 word essay due two days before my dissertation and so it’s on to that. Besides, it’s not like I can leave now.  This is Selly Oak. I’m not walking back at 4am, on my own, with a laptop. That would be mad.



Stage 15: The End is Nigh (06:00)

I would not advise attempting a 24 library study-athon unless you are also a veteran insomniac. I’ve been an insomniac for years and yet even I am struggling. There is no way you could do this, mate. Staying awake for, what is this, 18 hours sort of pushes you to impulse thinking. As soon as a thought pops into my head I do it. If I suddenly feel the urge to google ‘how to contour cheekbones you can hang your coat off’ I do it instantaneously and then a part of my brain goes ‘No, we’re studying!’ as though I genuinely forgot what I am in this library to do. Still, home stretch now.

Should mention there are 3 people sleeping around me. They are so casual about it, like this is a regular occurrence for them. Respect.

Stage 16: Welcome, people with your lives together (08:00)

I would rather do this entire 24 hour stint again, than come to the library at 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning. How these people manage it, I will never know. In they come, with make-up on and good outfits ready to do a full day of learning. They probably showered too. Ugh.

I meanwhile am almost on the verge of tears because I have just realised the iLounge cafe doesn’t open at 8 on a Saturday.



Stage 17: The last push (10:00)

What is up with the heating budget in the library? Two hours to go and I want issue apology notes to everyone in the surrounding area about the smell I am currently emitting. It’s happened. I can smell myself. 12:00 cannot come soon enough.

On the up side, this staying in the library thing works. It’s so dull here this essay almost seems interesting. If you need to get work done, I fully recommend doing 24 hours in this hell hole. It’s shit but it works.



Stage 18: FREEDOM (12:00)

I feel dizzy and dazed, which might be the sleep deprivation, but it could also be the sweet, sweet taste of freedom. I’ve done more work in the past 24 hours than I’ve done all week. It was all worth it.

Honestly, if you’re thinking of doing a library marathon, I wouldn’t knock it. You might go a tad insane, but you’ll get work done and that’s all that counts in third year, right? Good luck to you if you do try this.

And now I get to go home, shower, brush my teeth, and go to sleep content with my achievement. But before I do any of that, I am going to need to do a bloody colossal shit.