Library Ghosts

| October 30, 2011

Libraries can be scary places.  Perhaps the theoretical underpinnings of the library as an institution is to blame for this (see an earlier post on this subject), or simply the experience of searching for a book all alone in a tall, narrow aisle in the deserted stacks, where any slight noise makes you jump. 

Whatever explanation you subscribe to, it remains that libraries are a favorite site for ghost stories.  The first ghost the Ghostbusters encounter is famously spooking around in the New York Public Library.  This scene inspired an improv remake, a Facebook page dedicated to the “Grey Lady,” and what seems to be a very challenging level in a Ghostbusters video game, if the extensive amount YouTube hints on how to beat the library ghost is any indication.  The NYPL seems to have accepted their image, posting the above promo video called “Haunted Library” earlier this year.  If you’re into finding real ghosts in the area, the Encyclopedia Britannica blog has a (somewhat dated) post on Library Ghosts in the Northeastern U.S. TC’s own EdLab also recently used the spooky library motif to advertise their upcoming Halloween party; you can watch the video here.

Even today’s Library Link of the Day is to a piece on a Washington State University librarian’s tours of her “haunted” library.  While this article remains within the realm of treating libraries as spooky places, be it for fun or for real ghost-hunting, it also reflects a more sobering glimpse into the state of libraries:  this tour was apparently created to encourage new students to come to the library.

While the Dean of Duke University Deborah Jakubs libraries still claims that the library is the center of the university, worries have been brewing among librarians for decades about the future of the academic library, especially in the age of shrinking budgets and increasing electronic resources.  Could it be that libraries are dying?

I personally say no; at their core, libraries organize and manage information, and the amount of information that needs to be organized and managed is continuously increasing.  Libraries might be changing, but they are not dead, no matter what undead beings may share the stacks with the unsuspecting patron.

Although TC students already bring a substantial amount of life into this library–there are patrons here starting the minute we open, even on Sunday mornings, and some stay until the minute we close–I’ll take this moment to encourage all the TC students out there to continue to do so.  Those of us at the front desk are happy to help you with whatever question you may have, and we’re happy to refer you to our expert librarians for further assistance, too.

Happy Halloween!