Living in the library

Plenty of students brag about staying at UTM well into the wee hours of the night studying, but how many can say that they’ve actually pitched a tent and slept in the library every night for a week?

For the second consecutive year, two UTM students camped out in the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre to raise funds for Live-in for Literacy. From January 27 to February 3, third-year commerce students Laith AlAbsi and Diedra Dick sported blue promotional t-shirts and jangled a donation box in front of their tent across from Starbucks. Their goal: to beat last year’s total of $1,300 and hopefully raise $2,500.

The initiative was first undertaken by a student club, Discovering the Reality of Educating All Minds, at Queen’s University. Since its inception in 2005, DREAM has raised over $90,000. The donations collected for Live-in for Literacy go to Room to Read, an organization that constructs libraries and promotes literacy in developing countries. This provided for nine school libraries in Nepal, five school libraries in India, a computer lab in Cambodia, and over 10,000 local language children’s books.

“Literacy is an important ingredient in the growth of an individual and in the growth of a society,” Dick said. “By promoting literacy through the establishment of libraries in other parts of the world, we are assisting in the development of our global community.”

In total, 10 universities across Canada participated in Live-in for Literacy: Queen’s, U of Ottawa, U of Toronto, U of T Mississauga, McMaster, Memorial, Simon Fraser, U of British Columbia, York , and Laurentian. With an increase in the number of participating universities, DREAM set their goal at $27,000, a total that would build nine libraries in India.

“The work that Room to Read is doing will benefit future generations,” AlAbsi said. “We tried to increase donations by holding coin drives and Literacy Coffeehouses to support the cause.”At the end of the week, Live-in for Literacy at UTM raised $1,217 in donations.

When students packed up their books to leave and the lights went out, AlAbsi and Dick experienced a library atmosphere very different to the one most students are used to during hours of operation. The lights flicker on and off, toilets flush of their own accord, and the unoccupied elevator travels from floor to floor.

“The custodian told us that the library is haunted,” AlAbsi said. “I think she scared Diedra. And to answer people’s questions, we do get breaks to take showers.”

UTM organizers Lindsay Fiorenzini and Esmerelda Almedia coordinated the event with DREAM. Students interested in volunteering can find more information at

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