It's nearly midnight, and Anita Wokhlu '98 is sitting at a table in Cabot Library, textbooks fanned out around her and a clean notebook page ready.
Suddenly, she is interrupted by a loud, metallic alarm and flashing lights. Cabot is closing, and more than 30 students are forced out to continue their studying elsewhere.
The late-night exodus is not uncommon at Cabot or at Lamont Library, which usually closes at 1 a.m.
"There are a lot of people here at closing time," says Kishna N. Gwyn '96, who works at Cabot.
Many nights, students congregate in the unlit Greenhouse Cafe next door to Cabot to get their work done.
"During reading period and exam period, I see people go next door to the Greenhouse to study, where there isn't any light," says Eric Dahlman, a door checker at Cabot. "That's pretty sad, considering the amount they pay in tuition."
But this year, students seem poised to demand a solution to the early-morning lack of study space.
Several candidates for the Undergraduate Council presidency endorsed 24-hour libraries, and the council is hoping to push through both the all-hours study centers and a safety package for users.
"If the U.C. has its way, not only will students have a place to go at 4 a.m., they won't be afraid to go there," says newly-elected council President David L. Hanselman '94-'95. "The council would definitely be in favor of extending shuttle service hours."
But Hanselman, and many administrators, say the change will be gradual, if it happens at all.
"If past experience is an occasion, it could take a while. The more things you ask for, the more resistance you meet," Hanselman says.
Library workers and students say people will definitely use the extra hours at the libraries.
"The worst time to work is right before closing, because everyone is in here and they all want to check out books," says Manuel J. St. Victor '95, who works at the Cabot circulation desk.
Students still working when libraries close find the cutoff jarring and inconvenient.