This semester marks the 10th anniversary of Wake the Library! Thousands of cups of coffee, pizza slices, and sleepless nights have ingrained this event into the library’s consciousness– and it all began in the spring semester of 2006. Prior to this time, ZSR was open from 7 am to midnight, forcing students to find other study spots late at night. In the spirit of responding to student needs, ZSR librarians began staffing the library all night, every night during exam week as the demand for study spaces increased.

In the early years of Wake the Library (WTL), academic and administrative departments around campus helped to raise money for the week-long event. Before the introduction of Aramark on campus, the WTL Committee ordered and picked-up the food and drink supplies. It was truly a community effort.

After several successful semesters, from 2008 to 2010, ZSR hosted a 5K race around campus and Reynolda Village to fund WTL. The race was a great way to interact with the community and raise awareness, often coinciding with homecoming weekend and attracting 150 people or more.

Photograph of WTL 5K runners taking off as starting pistol sounds (October 2008).
WTL 5K runners take off as the starting pistol sounds during the event in October 2008.

Ushering in a new decade, the 5K race was replaced by official support from university administration. Now a part of the yearly budget of ZSR, WTL could continue without the fear of financial insecurity. Indeed, the past six years of WTL have seen tremendous improvements from the types of food provided to the number of volunteers as the communal nature of the event continues. Recently, Exam Fairies from the University Counseling Center have made appearances, as well as representatives from the Office of Wellbeing, ZSR Ambassadors, and volunteers from every corner of the college!

photograph of students lining up for the midnight snack table during Wake the Library in May, 2011.
Students line up for the midnight snack table during Wake the Library in May, 2011.

Ten years of Wake the Library have produced interesting traditions–some lasting and some not. Early years featured a graffiti wall for students to write and draw their exam stresses away. This was later replaced with a more sustainable option–whiteboards with funny questions and artistic spaces. Other periodic occurrences have included a flash rave and performances by the pep band and Momentum, the student hip-hop and modern dance crew. Considering the intense studying and stressful times of exam week, Wake the Library features a healthy dose of lively, yet responsible distraction.

One tradition that began in the early years of Wake the Library and mysteriously continues today–the Library Decorating Committee. This secretive group decorates the Atrium every semester before exams, lifting students’ moods with messages of holiday cheer or wishing a safe summer away from Reynolda Campus. Memorable decorative themes have been Star Wars (coinciding with the release of “The Force Awakens”) and the solar system (when Pluto was demoted from planetary status). While the decorations change every semester, two things remain constant: the hidden identities of the committee and the inclusion of the faces of President and Mrs. Hatch in the decor.

photo of the Library Decorating Committee's flight-themed project, complete with balloons for President Hatch and his wife Julie, in the Spring of 2011.
The Library Decorating Committee chose a flight-theme, complete with balloons for President and Mrs. Hatch, for their decorating project in the Spring of 2011.

Wake the Library is a truly unique program. What began as a concerted effort among a handful of librarians to keep ZSR open 24/7 during exams morphed into a week-long emblematic act of service for students. Perhaps its success is most readily explained in that it upholds ZSR’s mission: to help students, faculty, and staff succeed.