I spent (almost) 24 hours in George Green Library and here’s how it went
I’ll never be able to look at it in the same way
Ahhh, deadline season. Everyone’s least favourite part of the university experience, and, unfortunately, one we all have to deal with. Some students are better organised than others when it comes to exams and coursework deadlines, starting months before and taking the ‘little and often’ approach. Others are less organised. I’m sure you’ve all seen TikToks of people staying in the library untill 3am or pulling all-nighters to finish an assignment they’ve been neglecting – maybe you’ve even done one yourself. Rarely, however, do you see people spending a whole day – literally 24 hours – in a library non-stop, but it does happen. For most of the academic year, the libraries are only open until 2am, but every exam season, they open George Green and Hallward for 24 hours. So, I’ve decided to challenge myself to stay the whole 24 hours.
I decided to go for George Green and I even convinced some of my friends to join me for at least parts of the time I spent there. My housemate Tally joined me for the first leg.
Ludicrously capacious bags in hand, lunches packed and water bottles filled to the brim, we left our house at 11am, got the bus to campus and arrived in George Green at 11:16am. Tally decided she was going to try and stay until 10pm tonight, so we’ll see how well that goes.
As a Liberal Arts student who’s only taking three modules currently, I decided I was going to save most of my work for this venture, so I actually had a fair amount of work to do throughout the day. I started with a Politics research report due in three days which I’d barely started but had already cried over several times – starting off strong x
My initial plan to switch between modules every 90 minutes didn’t worked out so well, as I’d been on this research report for three hours and barely made a dent. It’s surprisingly easy to get this much work done when I know how much longer I have to stay here, though. I’m not usually one to stay in the library for too long because I tend to leave when I get bored, which is usually around the three-hour mark. I thought I was going to lose my mind a bit more if I kept doing this assignment non-stop so me and Tally decided to take a lunch break and then focus on some other coursework for a bit. While I kept things normal with a cheese and cucumber sandwich, Tally decided to bring a criminal combination of pasta with peas and mayo and calling it a pasta salad.
Six hours in, and it didn’t feel like it had been that long. We were joined by my other housemate Jess, and had all just been sat typing away for actually quite impressively long intervals before realising we could use a break. We moved to the other side of B Floor and managed to bag a table because it’s unusually quiet, but busy enough that we could still chat when we wanted without getting dirty looks. All in all, my only complaints at this point were that my back aches a bit and the cafe had closed. I abandoned my Politics report for the time being, but had submitted a Philosophy reading summary and for the first time at uni I actually read the whole thing.
The next thing on my list was to research Kim Kardashian’s infamous Met Gala Marilyn Monroe dress for an essay due next week.
My last housemate Mia joined us a few hours ago, and we’d been cycling between doing work and playing Papa’s Freezeria. I watched all of a documentary about the 2015 Met Gala, which I thought would be a nice break from work but as it turns out some of it was actually really helpful for my research. At this point it felt like I had been here for hours on end, but I wasn’t close to the end either. I knew I needed to keep doing work if I wanted to make it until morning, but I just could not be bothered, and it seems my housemates felt the same way: Jess started watching Breaking Bad, Tally was solving a Rubik’s Cube and Mia and I were debating ordering Nando’s but were disheartened by the service fee so I decided to eat the Pot Noodle I brought with me instead. To make things worse, the wifi kept cutting out and my hotspot wouldn’t work. I was just hoping this would be the biggest slump I would have during tonight.
Turns out my slump just got even worse after we moved to A Floor and found a sofa which I was trying very hard not to fall asleep on out of sheer boredom. I entertained myself with Tally and Mia by playing all the quizzes the internet had to offer: I tried to name every country in Europe, every US state, every UK county and city and not passed a single one.
Jess had gone home and Tally and Mia were trying to name every Radiohead song. Somehow I managed to convince my boyfriend Max to join us. He was actually the only person trying to do work so I’m sure our antics weren’t particularly helpful, but he was concentrating surprisingly well.
By this point Tally and Mia had gone home too – with Tally passing her target of staying until 10pm – Max and I migrated to a booth: a rare occurrence in George Green’s daylight hours. While his revision for the night had only just begun, helpful use of my mental faculties had well and truly ended by this point so I watched Friends and read some of my book instead.
This is around the time I would have genuinely expected to be the only person in the library, but somehow there was still about 10-15 other people there, begging the question of what exactly were they doing at 3am in the library on a Sunday night? How much had they neglected their work in the past week’s rare sunny weather that required them to still be doing work at this time?
I took off my makeup and pushed two booth benches on E floor together, because I was hoping to get a few hours’ sleep before I could leave but surprisingly I was still fairly awake. Max is basically nocturnal anyway so he was still doing revision, but I’d pretty much been doing anything I could think of to get the time to move faster. I watched eight episodes of Friends, I re-downloaded and played Moshi Monsters, I even attempted to get some work done at this time but my brain effectively shut off at about 10pm. Stomach bloated from too many Sainsbury’s cookies and not enough of my 5 a day, after about another 40 minutes of these fruitless endeavours, I put on my eye mask and called it a night.
Max had been working while I was asleep, but I’d asked him to wake me up when the sun started rising, so I got to see a very pretty sunrise while also being delirious from lack of tiredness. I just wanted to go home at this point, but I was also so close to making the 24 hours.
I decided to just power on through. Max took a nap after me, so I watched more Friends and read my book until he woke up again at around 7am. This was by far the time when the library was the emptiest, which I sort of imagined would happen as who in their right mind would either still be studying at 5am, or starting it at 5am?
There were still a few people sitting alone in the Silent Study zone, and if any of you are reading this, I hope everything is okay because I can’t even imagine having so much work you’re willingly in the library at sunrise?
Max was now very desperate to go home, so I caved in mere hours before the 24 hour mark. As we walked out of the library, people started coming in and the library was beginning to fill up again. Campus at 7am is not something I ever want to see again, so I am very impressed with the dedication those of you who actually go to uni at this time have. I think you’re probably insane, but also very impressive.
Once I got home, I went straight back to bed and slept for a good 7 hours, and I am still feeling absolutely atrocious three hours later. I wish I was exaggerating when I say I sincerely hope I never have to spend 24 hours in a library out of necessity, and anyone reading this who actually does this regularly deserves some credit, because it’s really not easy.
I would rate this experience a 4 out of 10 stars, mostly because it was very memorable and I got to a point in the evening when I was so tired that everything seemed funny. Minus points for the cafe closing and none of the vending machines working, but the surprisingly comfortable booths and the sunrise this morning brought it up from my original rating of -1.