The Alligator sent a reporter into Library West for a whole 24 hours to ask: “Why are you here?” Here’s what 24 people had to say.

To spend 24 hours in Library West, I had to bring along some supplies. 

Forty-four tweets, three grande iced coffees and one terrible playlist called “24 hours, 24 bops” later, I emerged tired from the revolving door of Library West.

I set out to understand the purpose of a 24-hour library.

The walls of the six-story compound housed me from 10:30 a.m. Oct. 29 until 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 30. Students and staff questioned my motives as I questioned them for my story.

I can’t say I have ever stayed awake for 24 hours prior to my experiment. I never had a reason to.

The first six hours were somewhat productive. I finished homework, a group project and my lunch of vegetable dumplings.

Every hour, I found myself pacing around book and DVD shelves. I would look for a different student to talk to. Some spoke to me out of pity. Others talked because they needed a distraction from work.

My mind worked well until about 5 a.m. I found myself on the second floor blasting “Mr. Brightside” through my headphones while pedaling on a desk bike like I was a suburbanite in spin class.

My thoughts wandered: What is the purpose of an escalator in a library anyway?

Read more about the people I met along the way each hour of my overnight stay.

Hour 1


Katherine Davis

Katherine Davis

Hometown: St.Cloud, Florida

Katherine Davis sat in Library West full from the chocolate pudding cookies. She was still celebrating her birthday.

In Davis’ 23 years, she said she learned about hard work from when she swam competitively in high school. The long hours in the pool prepared her for the time she commits to studying.

“Don’t just be focused on something that’s happening tomorrow or the next day,” Davis, a UF chemical engineering senior, said. “Focus on what’s going to be happening in the future.”

Hour 2

Teddy Steelman

Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri

The scariest part of Teddy Steelman’s week was already over.

Steelman, a 19-year-old UF finance sophomore, said his Monday evening management exam should be a breeze compared to his weekend, because he jumped out of a plane Saturday morning.

Steelman said he questioned his safety on the plane because its doors were surrounded by industrial tape. Steelman looked down at the field the Gator football team would play on for the Florida-Georgia game when he flew over Jacksonville.

Steelman dangled his feet in terror. Then he jumped.

“I’m never going to do that again,” Steelman said. “That’s what I learned.”

Hour 3

Joel Mathias

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Joel Mathias rarely gets to watch all of the DVDs he rents.

But he said he still stops by the library to rent movies about every three weeks.

“I used to like literature,” Mathias. A 30-year-old UF second year electrical engineering Ph.D. student said. “While doing engineering, I didn’t have time to go through big novels.”

Mathias said his favorite films are “Seventh Samurai” and “Red Beard” — both from Japanese Director Akira Kurosawa.

“He’s got some deep insights into the human psyche,” Mathias said. “He’s got a very brilliant sense of movement of people and cinematography.”

Hour 4

Marian Mikhael

Hometown: Redington Beach, Florida

Marian Mikhael wants to be a doctor, but first, she has to study.

She flipped through the red pages of her Smokin’ Notes packet, studying for the Biology 1 exam she would sit through Oct. 31.

Her mother is a doctor in underserved clinics, Mickhael said. She’s inspired her mom because she helps people who can’t always afford to take care of themselves.

“This is going to sound too cheesy, but I really love helping people and medicine is so interesting to me,” Mikhael, an 18-year-old UF microbiology freshman said.

Hour 5


Claisha Pruitt

Claisha Pruitt

Hometown: Lakeland, Florida

Claisha Pruitt wants to use nutrition to teach others to thrive mentally, spiritually and physically.

Pruitt, an 18-year-old UF nutritional science freshman, said her mother has high blood pressure and anemia and she wants to work in health care to help people like her mother.

“I’ve seen in my own family how if they simply change their diet they can get rid of a lot of diseases and health complications,” Pruitt said.

Hour 6

Group project time - Preview in Urban and Regional Planning

Gillian Sweeney - Alligator Staff Writer

Waking up early on the morning of Oct. 28 was no accident. The plan was entirely premeditated.

I had slept off the Florida-Georgia Gator loss, only to book a study room for my unsuspecting group project members to share.

Then, I waited for Monday.

I hiked the stairs from floor two to floor four to meet with my five-member group. We had been working on a presentation on downtown Gainesville.

They had no idea that I was on the sixth hour of my 24-hour stay in Library West.

When I told them, they just stared.

“But why?” said Eduardo Villamor, a 19-year-old UF architecture sophomore.

Me: *shrug*.

Hour 7

Kendal Bottini

Hometown: Tampa, Florida

Kendal Bottini spent the afternoon transforming a red sweatshirt and blue pants from the GoodWill into a Spiderman costume.

“It’s a really dorky looking one,” Bottini said laughing.

Bottini’s inspiration for the Halloween costume came from his interest in the Marvel Universe, he said. He began watching Marvel movies since he first saw “Iron Man” in 2008.

“It’s pretty much a part of popular culture now,” Bottini, an 18-year-old UF linguistics and sociology freshman said. “It’s easy common ground to find because it’s so popular.”

Hour 8

Caroline Zapert

Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida

Stone Posley

Hometown: Sanford, Florida

Stone Posley walked into the library with a bag of Chick-Fil-A.

He said he looked for an open seat and someone with open ears. Caroline Zapert was sitting at a table for four when Posley decided to sit across from her.

“I’m approachable,” Zapert, a 19-year-old UF psychology and Portuguese sophomore said. “I don’t think of myself as an intimidating person by any means.”

Posley, a UF 18-year-old health science freshman, held nothing back and the two talked about responsibility.

“Raise your children right,” Posley said. “If you have a girl, no matter gay, straight or bi, raise her to be tasteful, calm cool and collected.”

Hour 9

Brianna Steidle

Hometown: Jupiter, Florida

Hours before walking into Library West, Brianna Steidle was shoulder-to-shoulder with other members of the Jewish community on Turlington Plaza.

She reflected in the wake of the mass shooting in the Tree of Life Synagogue, Steidle, a 19-year-old UF psychology and English sophomore, said.

“People just like me aren’t aspiring for a future; they’re not thinking ahead,” Steidle said. “They’re frozen in this moment of terror, and 11 people didn’t ever leave that moment.”

Steidel said it was a relief to come together.

“Every time something like this happens I feel that our society, or at least individuals within it, inch closer to progress, or inch closer to a day where this wouldn’t happen,” Steidle said. “After this shooting, it felt like it is my time to make that step.”

Hour 10


Adam Pimentel

Adam Pimentel

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Adam Pimentel was building a computer.

He stood at a second-floor desktop computer, clicking away as he designed a case on a program to hold his computer, he said.

Pimentel, an 18-year-old UF computer engineering freshman, said he plans to 3D print the case at Marston Science Library. The case will be like a fish tank that holds the computer parts.

Pimentel also built a computer over the summer but left it for for his younger brother.

“It’s cheaper,” Pimentel said.

Hour 11

Cara Panarisi

Hometown: Boynton Beach, Florida

Cara Panarisi became a psycology major because she finds people fascinating.

The 18-year-old UF psychology freshman hopes to study abnormal psychology, which focuses on mental illness.

The name illustrates the stigma individuals with mental health problems face, Panarisi said. People may be more inclined to help if they took the time to learn about mental illness.

“People are afraid of the things they don’t understand,” Panarisi said.

Hour 12

Dakota Holder

Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida

A sunflower tattoo was healing below a peeling layer of skin that on Dakota Holder’s forearm.

It’s the third tattoo in Holders’ collection. The 18-year-old UF exploratory freshman said she added it Oct. 20.

The decision to get another tattoo was somewhat impulsive, Holder said. She chose the design to remind her of the overwhelming happiness she felt in her first semester of college.

“For me, each tattoo has their own independent story,” she said.

Hour 13


Stephen Fitzmeyer

Stephen Fitzmeyer

Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts

Biking through Boston is what Beantown native Stephen Fitzmeyer misses about home.

Fitzmeyer, a 20-year-old UF electrical engineering junior, said he purchased a bike when he first got to Gainesville. It was the cheapest one he could find at Walmart.

In a year, the bike became encrusted with rust, Fitzmeyer said. It’s no longer useful, so he got rid of it.

Today, Fitzmeyer wants UF to have a better bike share program. He said he has tried Gainesville’s program, but the locations are not convenient for his commute around campus.

“Programs remove the barrier to entry,” he said. “It removes the responsibility of taking care of a bike.”

Hour 14

Karolyn Hernandez

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Gabriela Perez

Hometown: Toa Alta, Puerto Rico

Valaria Delahoz

Hometown: Davie, Florida

Gabriela Perez went to the library to study, but her friends had other plans.

Valaria Delehoz and Karolyn Hernandez sat across from Perez, an 18-year-old UF international studies freshman, at the table they shared.

Delehoz, a 21-year-old UF psychology and criminology senior, was deciding on a Halloween costume, ultimately settling on the “Sweatshirt Ear Kid” from Vine. All she needed was a pair of shorts and a hoodie.

Hernandez, a 19-year-old UF psychology senior, said she had homework and played fetch with her four month old yorkie and bichon frise mix, Dale, before leaving for the library.

“He can do no wrong,” Hernandez said. “He is the love of my life.”

Hour 15


Alexander Chain

Alexander Chain

Hometown: Fort Myers, Florida

Alexander Chain found a passion in law when his childhood friend went to prison for a crime he didn’t commit four months ago.

Since then, Chain said he became fascinated with the structural inequities that exist the U.S. He aspires to become an academic or lawyer after he graduates.

But for now, he spends late nights in the library studying for his Mass Media Law class. Studying isn’t a chore, Chain, a 21-year-old UF political science senior, said. It’s how he will affirm his future.

If Chain becomes a lawyer, his friend’s story will affect his practice.

“I think it’s a way I can effectuate change,” Chain said.

Hour 16

Jamila Cooper

Hometown: Miami Gardens, Florida

Jamila Cooper was ready to leave Gainesville for the sake of her stomach.

“I want food, real food. I want ethnic food,” Cooper, a 19-year-old UF nursing freshman, said. “I want seafood. I want Haitian food.”

Cooper took an over eight hour long Greyhound ride Nov. 1 just to get eat her father’s Haitian cooking.

“I need a break from the Gainesville,” Cooper said.

Hour 17

Molly Conway

Hometown: Lakeland, Florida

Molly Conway started riding a skateboard two weeks ago when her bike got stolen.

Conway, a 19-year-old UF biology and anthropology sophomore, said her dad sent her a new skateboard in the mail.

“I’m not really the most coordinated person in the world,” Conway said.

Since getting her new board, gravity has been her teacher.

So far, she has knocked into “nature, buildings and people.”

“The body count has gone up,” she said.

Hour 18

Saúl Correa

Hometown: Boynton Beach, Florida

Saúl Correa likes to make jewelry when he isn’t working the night shift at Starbucks.

He stocks the shelves and cleans the counters of Starbucks when business is slow, Correa, a 24-year-old Starbucks supervisor and UF linguistics alumnus, said. The job also allows him to make drinks.

“I’ve always liked making stuff,” Correa said. “That was part of the appeal of this job.”

Correa said he recently finished making a silver banded ring with a rainbow moonstone as part of a seven session leisure course in jewelry making at the Arts & Crafts Center in the Reitz Union.

“I’m kind of a perfectionist,” Correa said.

Hour 19


Oscar Gonzales

Oscar Gonzales

Hometown: Orlando, Florida

Aldrin Gaffud

Hometown: Coral Springs, Florida

Aldrin Gaffud is still washing puke out of his denim shirt.

He finally found time to go out dancing with his friends over the weekend when he felt liquid flow down his back, Gaffud said. He realized it was a stranger’s vomit who had just bumped into him when he took a whiff.

“I was like ‘Hey, call an Uber ‘cause I’m done,’” Gaffud, 20-year-old UF civil engineering junior, said.

Gaffud’s friend Oscar Gonzales, an 18-year-old UF marketing freshman, laughed at his friend’s misfortune from across the library table.

“Eww,” Gonzales said.

Hour 20

Beth Osbaldeston

Hometown: Defuniak Springs, Florida

Beth Osbaldeston is not one for dancing, but she spent her Saturday dancing in silence.

Osbaldeston and three of her friends participated in a silent disco in Jacksonville, Florida, during the Florida-Georgia game.

Osbaldeston, a 22-year-old library desk circulation assistant and UF anthropology alumna, said she danced the night away with headphones on.

“People were in the zone listening to music,” Osbaldeston said. “I felt like people were a lot more open dancing with the headphones.”

Hour 21

Audrey Long

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Audrey Long returned to the library at 6:15 a.m. after she left at midnight.

Long, a 19-year-old UF biology sophomore, studied for her exam in behavioral neuroscience.

Her schedule is packed with labs and classes from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, so it is difficult to find time to study.

“One thing I hate about college is there is never an ending point,” Long said. “In high school I would never be in the library at 6 a.m.”

Hour 22

Liliam Clavijm

Hometown: Tampa, Florida

Liliam Clavijm wants more students to vote.

“You don’t have to be a political science major, you don’t have to keep up with politics,” the 20-year-old UF political science sophomore said. “You just really should vote.”

Clavijm said if more young people were to vote, then there would be more representatives in government discussing the issues they care about.

“You can’t complain about the current political system if you don’t have a stake in it,” she said.

Hour 23

Kendra Blandon

Hometown: Weston, Florida

Kendra Blandon spent her weekend with old friends.

Blandon, a 20-year-old UF religion and international studies junior, said she returned to her high school’s Florida Blue Key debate tournament to see old teachers and to cheer on students from her high school.

“I teared up a couple times because I remember being on the stage myself,” Blandon said.

Blandon said she developed confidence in competing.

“It was really beautiful to see so many high school students giving performances and talking about important issues,” Blandon said.

Hour 24

24 hours

April Hines

April Hines

Hometown: Naples, Florida

April Hines is a librarian who often finds herself working outside of the library.

“Fake news has been really good for business,” Hines, a 36-year-old UF journalism almuna and UF Journalism and Mass Communications librarian said.

Hines said librarians have always been aware unreliable sources exist, which is why they teach students to choose high-quality sources.

“With Facebook and the elections, the rest of the world realized that there is a problem,” Hines said.

Contact Gillian Sweeney at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @gilliangsweeney

Gillian is a PR student and Staff Writer. She grew up a New York native and is now exploring the Sunshine State. If you have a story idea, email her at [email protected]