Story from The Easterner by Abbi Vance
Although there is not a gold plaque that brings statues and structures to life at a certain time of night, and Ben Stiller is not a security guard for the J.F.K. Library, Library Lights Out started out as a Night at the Museum inspired thought.
When the community advisor for the social science Living Learning Community (LLC), now Explore, brought the idea of staying the night in the library to Jeff Stafford, communication studies professor and advisor, eight years ago, nothing like it had been done on campus before. Together, they formed a proposal and took the idea to the library who asked Justin Otto, associate professor of libraries, to be the head librarian on the project.
“It was supposed to be a special program for LLCs,” said Deb Stafford, LLC coordinator. “Originally sponsored by the social science and behavioral LLCs, we consider this a showcase event for living learning community students.”
The annual event is exclusive to only LLC members which allows for different small groups of students to mingle in one place without the chaos of thousands, and gives those in the LLCs something specific to look forward to every year solely for them.
When the event first started, the four existing LLCs were only located in Morrison Hall. Now, eight LLCs are located in five of the eight resident halls around campus.
“The first year after we split LLCs into different buildings, we wanted students to meet other students and that was the first year we had a theme,” said Deb Stafford. “We felt we needed something to tie these strangers in with each other.”
Themes for the event have ranged in the past from Survivor to Harry Potter. This year’s theme was Decades.
The library had minimal decoration, but students came dressed to impress in their decade attire.
When entering the library, students were asked to check in where they received a lanyard with a colorful piece of paper attached to the end. The paper, which would later signify their team, ranged from the 1920s, marked by a picture of a fedora, all the way to the 90s/2000s, which was marked by a picture of Justin Timberlake.
“I love coming and meeting new people based on the random selection of a headband or lanyard,” sophomore Mattie Bialozor, computer science LLC member, said. “It forces you to meet new people not in your LLC and it makes it feel more like a community.”
When the event first took place, there were only about 35 students from Morrison Hall’s LLCs that attended. Out of those, a majority stayed the night. The events numbers now range from 90-100 students every year, with about half staying the night, Deb Stafford said.
“I think I like it being specific to LLCs because then there isn’t a thousand kids here, there’s only a few,” freshman Micaella Rickard, H2O LLC member, said.
After the students ate, they were split into their groups for team building activities. Activities included over-under ball pass competition, a pool noodle name game and four category corners to get the students out of their shells and bond with others. One activity during the night specifically targets the academic learning component of the event; the library scavenger hunt.
“We hope that people have a better understanding about the library and make it seem like not such an intimidating place,” Otto said.
When team builders were done, students were free to partake in activities of their choosing. The main level held activities such as Mario: Super Smash Bros, Mahjong tutorials and a tournament and coloring, crafting and dry erase games in the PLUS and Multi Media Center. The upper level contained laser tag while the lower level would be used later in the night for a movie.
“I like that there are different stations and different activities, but I’m also glad for the structure and consistency for moving activities along,” Balozor said.
Snacks were provided during the night and for those who chose to stay the night, there was pizza. In the morning, students were provided breakfast and helped clean-up the library to restore it to its original state.
“I want students to see the possibility of how we’re all here tonight because one person had an idea and they pursued it.” Jeff Stafford said.