Friday, October 31, 2008

Haunted Libraries

Happy Halloween, iSchool!

In celebration of today, please enjoy George Eberhart's "The Haunted Library Series." He's been posting entries throughout the week based on geography, and Thursday's was the one for the Western U.S.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), there isn't anything in it about the University of Washington libraries being haunted. But oddly enough, last month while working at the Suzzallo Information Desk, I got a question about the Grand Staircase in the library being haunted. I sent the inquirer to the reference desk, but then got curious myself and decided to do a quick Google search. In the Google Book preview of Ghosts Among Us, there is a passage about a ghost in Suzzallo Library (though not in the Grand Staircase).
The ghost of a woman in a raincoat is reportedly seen at the University of Washington's Suzzallo Library. While some say that the ghost story is a hoax, others insist that the tall, slender apparition appears at closing time and is seen heading toward the stacks.

Hmm. There are a lot of stacks in Suzzallo. I'm curious about whether the people who claim to have seen her told the author of the book in what part of Suzzallo the ghost appeared.

Anyway, hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween!

1 comment:

Joshua D. said...

They say there's some ghost in the College Inn, but how can a ghost hide out if down there if the living can barely find a booth?

At least one haunted sector of UW's Libraries lay outside the public's view. The seams of Suzzallo's various phases of constructions have left dank stairwells and walled-off hallways that most have forgotten. Dead patrons from the first half of the 20th century are no doubt confused by the 1960's expansion of the building. More recent dead have ample opportunity to be confused by the blocked paths created by the renovations a few years ago.

One such staircase leads from the sub-basement to the basement, emerging across the hallway from the Mendery. It's perpetually locked door often rattles or is banged on from the inside. Dead Huskies might be attracted by the old books of their time being ripped apart and rebound. They might be frustrated to find their favorite texts missing from their familiar Dewey Decimal order; now that these materials are scattered to new shelves by LC cataloging unknown to Suzzallo in their lifetime.

Another hallway is behind the Smith Room. It wanders off into alcoves and staircases of old brick exteriors and leads who the hell knows where. Studious ghosts lost in concentration can get caught in a circuit fumbling back and forth looking for their shelf. I think it’s one reason why librarians at UW are so anxious that you find the materials you need. They don’t need any more patrons dying with searches left unresolved.