I work the night shift at the library every Monday, and that suits me just fine. Whenever I tell people this, I get the same stock response.
“How could you ever enjoy working that late at night?”
When they say it, their eyes pop out of their sockets just a little bit, just enough to really concern you. To them, there is no possible value in working long into the night, and any hours that I worked at that time were because literally, no one else would volunteer. Nobody could ever enjoy the night shift, right? Well, they’re wrong. I love working nights, and I can give you so many reasons why.
1. The People
First, the people. There’s less of them because nobody wants to be awake at that hour. They’ve got lives to attend to. I’d say on average the number of people who interact with me at the front desk on a typical night shift is somewhere around seven. In addition to there not being a lot of people to interact with, the people who do come to talk to me about things are typically a lot more docile. It's late and all they want is to print something or reserve a study room. They don’t have the energy to disrupt the zen of the library. And even if they did, they wouldn’t because they need to cram for that exam or hammer out the last few paragraphs of a paper.
2. The Atmosphere
That leads me to two, the atmosphere. There’s really nothing like it. You know how libraries are quiet? Yeah, but imagine a library at one in the morning with no one around. It’s my job to walk up the stairs and lock every door on every floor. It’s a wonderfully silent place with everyone gone, and the only noise in the whole place is the sound of a clock ticking. A sort of metronome for my thoughts, tick tock. I get so much work done in this place. Working at the front desk, I probably get more done than when I’m just attending the library on my own volition. It feels great to be able to think in this place, away from all the typical hustle and bustle of the university setting.
3. The Routine
Finally, the routine. There’s so much for me to do around that last hour of the shift. Make sure everybody’s cleared out, make sure that all the lights are turned off but make sure not to turn the lights off if people are studying, make sure that every door is locked. Over the past year, I’ve developed a routine for walking around the library so I can get everything all in one go. It makes everything so much easier. Plus, it’s so nice to know what you’re doing for a large chunk of time. It makes me feel like I have my whole life together.
The night shifts may require you to stay awake, but if you enjoy being able to think without all the noise of the world and if you enjoy feeling like everything has a place and makes sense, work the night shift at a library.