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Libraries, Finals, and Ramadan… Oh My!

May 14, 2019

‘Tis the week before finals and all through the library the students are stressing, some more quietly than others… On my campus, this was last week, where my entire work week centered on supporting students academically (and emotionally at times) to get through the biggest crunch of the semester. Data shows that for us, the week BEFORE finals, not finals week itself, is the busiest time of the year in the library.

As a shared and central space on campus we are also often hosts to year-end celebrations and stress-buster activities. Our Uno cards have been a mainstay at the circulation desk for students who just need a break, and this morning, half of our desk has been converted to a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee bar for the first day of exams. Yesterday was our reading day, and subsequently our graduating sophomores dining out celebration.

Last week, during a club’s end of year luncheon, I was approached by one of our Muslim students about the dinner, asking if he’d still be permitted to attend, and take a to-go box so that he might enjoy the meal when able to break his fast later that night. I immediately felt guilty for gorging myself on chicken nuggets in front of him, but assured him I’d find out and advocate for him and our other Muslim students to not be excluded. We were able to coordinate take-out meals!

Ironically enough, as one of the students entered the library this morning, thanking me for being their advocate, I got the email from Inside Higher Ed, with Jeremy Bauer-Wolf’s article. If libraries are to be seen as a safe and inclusive space for students, what else can we do?

So, during this finals week, as I seriously contemplate putting up an out of office reply on my email saying that I’m helping students, I’m doing what I can – lending an ear, a second set of eyes, reassurance. We’re almost there!   


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