It's two in the morning. The night is dark, but the NYU Abu Dhabi Library is still brightly-lit and full of students scrambling to reach the minimum word limit for an essay that was assigned three weeks ago. It’s that time of the year again — the Long Night Against Procrastination, referred to fondly and rather elaborately at NYUAD as the Lange Nacht der aufgeschobenen Hausarbeiten.
Based on a concept that originated in German universities, the Lange Nacht is a bi-annual event held at the NYUAD Library, featuring coffee, target goals, help with academic and non-academic writing and research, study break scavenger hunts, Chinese tea, and most importantly, copious amounts of pizza.
Ken Nielson, director of the Writing Center, describes the concept: "The Long Night Against Procrastination is a collaboration between the Writing Center and the library where the library stays open late and students can get help from the librarians to finish their work for the semester, in an attempt to not procrastinate." Nielson is clearly well-versed with the nuances of the art of procrastination.
The Lange Nacht, along with the Research Breakfast, is one of the library’s signature events, and has found popularity amongst students who seek peer support and help with academic resources to conquer large workloads. Librarians and interns help students conduct research, explore the library’s 1,200 databases and order books from NYU’s New York library through the online loan system. "I spent most of my time in the library last semester and I realized that I really like this place,” said Shujaat Mirza, student intern at the library. "I enjoy the ambience, the environment."
I spent most of my time in the library last semester and I realized that I really like this place. I enjoy the ambience, the environment.
The library’s sense of community and silent encouragement is palpable in its atmosphere, and is perhaps the reason why so many students enjoy working and spending time there. “We want to make the library bright and cheerful,” said Raghav Kumar, chair of the Library Committee. “[Lange Nacht] is a nice, fun night for everyone. They get great food and at the same time, work toward achieving their target goals.”
Something For Everyone
Even when it’s not hosting a late-night study and pizza party, the library has a wealth of resources on offer. In addition to resources at the Writing Center, which include help with speaking and presentation skills, the library holds a number of workshops on topics like survey analysis, geographic information systems, citation management, and basic how-to-research courses. Non-research hobby workshops include photography and HTML coding.
A relatively recent addition in the library is its stunning Archives and Special Collections section, which includes: Global Shakespeare Collection, Arabian Book Collection, Photobook Collection, Max Kreutzberger Palestine Collection, Capstone Project Archives, and the Film Festival Collection. On my first visit to the archives, much to the amusement of observers, I spent most of my time absorbing the aroma of crumbling ink and experiencing the tactile elegance of the pages. It was time well-spent.
“We have everything from old Islamic science texts to Arabic novels to Orientalist texts from European countries, travel narratives, maps ... all of it hovers around the peninsula and Indian Ocean as a massive network,” explained Nicholas Martin, librarian for Archives and Special Collections.
What I really love about the library are the people. We really care about the students. We share an ethos.
“We are [also] collecting early and contemporary editions of Shakespeare plays and poetry in translation," Martin continued. "We have at least 25 different languages now, and we’re trying to grow. The idea is that we want Shakespeare that everybody can read in their native language.” Amongst these rarities is a curious miniature German translation of Romeo and Juliet. It is 400 pages long, 6.2 x 4.7 cm, and utterly fascinating.
And as I sit at a table with five other students clacking away at their laptops, sensing the anxiety, the faith and the resilience, I realize just how fascinating the library is in itself, as an institution. Hidden within its beautiful rows of books and quiet signs is a silent support network of fellow students with their shared grievances, upperclassmen with some wisdom and experience, and most importantly, the librarians, with their energizing enthusiasm and enviable ability to motivate.
“What I really love about the library are the people,” said Beth Daniel Lindsay, who’s worked there since 2010. “This is cheesy to say, since I am one of the people but my colleagues are really wonderful and we really care about the students. We share an ethos.”