Walking into Cabell Library, it might be easy to miss the posters featuring four zombified workers – The Working Dead, as they’ve come to call themselves.
But by 10 p.m., The Working Dead have come alive.
Since Cabell Library began operating on a 24-hour, five-day a week schedule, four employees at Cabell have overseen the late-night and early morning shifts.
KJ Ricasata, who is planning on returning to VCU this fall, works from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. during the week. He works with VCU alum Noel Aguado, who works from 10:30 p.m. until 7 a.m. Topher Hance-George works from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Malcolm Sharp works from 1:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.
Each of the employees are featured in artwork inspired by the television series, “The Walking Dead” and created by Cabell Library’s building manager, Dave Morrison.
Morrison first drew the four on the whiteboard that greets library visitors. The library has since turned it into a poster to use as a way of advertising their new extended hours.
Other colleges want in on Morrison’s artwork too: Penn State has asked to use Morrison’s artwork to also advertise their 24-hour library service.
Ricasata has been working with VCU Libraries for six years while Aguado just began working for the library when the 24/5 schedule was adopted in March.
Both Aguado and Ricasata said the hardest part of the job is not falling asleep, but it’s not as hard as some might think.
“You kind of take it day by day,” Ricasata said. “Some days you just feel like your insides are liquefying, like a breakdown on the atomic level, but it’s not that bad.”
In the first week of switching to the new schedule, a VCU Libraries press release said more than 2,000 students visited the library.
From what Ricasata can tell, the number of students coming in to the library overnight is only increasing.
Both Ricasata and Aguado said they have observed a lull in activity around 4 a.m., two hours later than they’ve noticed in the past.
“Between 4 (a.m.) and 7 (a.m.) is pretty much the witching hour where everything is slow and sleepy,” Ricasata said.
Although it wouldn’t do anything to help Ricasata and Aguado’s sleep schedules, both overnight workers can see the value of Cabell’s switch to 24 hours.
“I think it’s in high demand,” Aguado said.
As part of a goal to become a member in the national Association for Research Libraries, Cabell Library has tentatively considered operating as a completely 24-hour, seven-days-a-week library.
ARL libraries typically operate on such a schedule and while nothing has been finalized for a 24/7 schedule, Cabell has been steadily increasing their operating hours since the beginning of last semester when they extended weekday hours to 2 a.m.
“If we had the resources for (a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week schedule), I’m all for it,” Ricasata said. “I know we’re trying to stay competitive with other libraries in Virginia. I think 24/5 is a good start for now (and) I think we’ll garner a lot of info from this first test run and see where we go from there.”
Aguado agreed with Ricasata, but had one additional idea:
“Just don’t make me work weekends.” CT