A-level reopens to student fanfare

By Claire McNear

The Regenstein library’s all-night study space reopened Monday night, returning the A-level location to its former nocturnal glory as both a librarian’s worst enemy and a manic pre-med’s best friend.

The A-level, located in the basement of the Reg, had served as a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week study space until the beginning of last year, when the Reg’s ever-growing collection of books led to a need for more shelf space. Administrators decided to extend more shelves into the A-level, and the space began to close at 1 a.m. every night along with the rest of the library.

“The A-level was originally closed to make room for more books,” said third-year Matt Kennedy, the Student Government (S.G.) vice president for student affairs. “People were really upset…. The people that made the decision just didn’t know” how strongly students felt about the A-level, he said.

When the Reg began shutting its doors every night, the University opened another all-night study space in nearby Crerar Library. This alternative left many students dissatisfied.

“Crerar is great if it’s the week before finals week and you need to buckle down,” Kennedy said. “Part of the dynamic of the A-Level was a more social atmosphere.”

“[Crerar] is kind of awkward,” fourth-year Ryan Kaminski said. “It’s not the same…. There’s kind of an A-level culture,” he said, which he described as “loud but kind of fun.”

After a number of pleas from the student body, student representatives met with Judith Nadler, the director of the Reg, as well as various administration representatives, several times during last spring quarter. Ultimately, administrators realized “how important that space was to students,” Kennedy said.

After a series of negotiations, the University agreed to reopen the A-level for 24-hour usage contingent upon receiving funding for the slated library extensions from the Board of Trustees at the Board’s planned December meeting. The $42-million Regenstein add-on, scheduled to open in spring 2010, will extend west of the library to Ellis Avenue and contain 3.5 million volumes.

But over winter break, S.G. representatives received word that the Trustees’ vote had been postponed, once again shelving plans for an all-night A-level.

“We were told it was going to be postponed and raised a bit of a stink,” Kennedy said. In the end, the University decided to follow through with its original plans for reopening the A-level this quarter despite the postponed funding vote.

“I’m pretty proud about the A-level reopening,” Kennedy said. “In my time with S.G., we’ve done a lot of stuff, [but] most of it is smaller and more behind-the-scenes.” The renewed hours will take effect at the beginning of second week and will provide students with all-night resources throughout the rest of the quarter and beyond. The all-night space in Crerar will also remain available to students.

“I definitely was a fan [of the A-level],” said fourth-year Andrew Flowers, who recalled making the trek to the basement as often as twice a week.

“I’m really happy about it,” said third-year Stephan Skepnek. “I’ve always had trouble working at home… [and] I can’t work at Crerar. I don’t know why.”

In honor of the reopening, S.G. organized a Monday-night study break in Ex Libris to kick off the renewal of what it refers to on the S.G. blog as “an institution of the University’s undergraduate culture.” Red Bull and burritos from Chipotle were provided.