You've probably been to the library a million times, but did you know that it's also the scene or some pretty frightful experiences? No worries - there isn't a ghoul lurking in the cookbook section or anything. The scene of the stories that follow occur in the basement.
The basement is a creepy place by itself. It's an old building, so paint is peeling and, being underground, it's pretty dark. There's enough lighting in the public spaces, like in the breakroom and offices, but most of the space is taken up by a room full of shelves. About 50 percent of the adult collection is actually located in the basement, a function of space, unfortunately. That makes of lots of dimly-lit rows, shadows and places for a wandering spirit to hide and make mischief.
Enter Holly Tripp. She's been the victim, so to speak, of a library haunting, and knew a couple of stories, too. Cassie and I met with her last week to hear all about it.
Holly started off by telling us about an employee from the company that fills the library's vending machines. He approached her one day, white as a ghost, and asked if anything weird ever happens to people there. He explained that he felt a tugging on his shirt, but when he turned around, no one was there. Holly said a new guy showed up the next time the machines needed filling.
Now to Holly herself. Her desk is located in the basement, and one day, she dropped some paper clips. She went to retrieve them, but they had disappeared. This went on for about a week - Holly would drop a paper clip, and when she attempted to retrieve it, it was nowhere to be found. Even Holly's supervisor got on her hands and knees to hunt for the missing paper clips, but it was no use. Not too long after that, Holly was sent to the basement stacks to collect a book for a library patron upstairs. She stood by a shelf along the back wall of the basement, a book shelf in front of her and a concrete wall behind. All of the sudden, a large, rusty paper clip sailed over her shoulder and landed on the shelf. Naturally, no one was there when she turned around. (Spooked yet? Because I am.)
Other library staffers, including Holly, report hearing their name called. Sometimes it's a whisper, sometimes it's a shout. And sometimes, you can even feel a breath, as though someone is right next to you speaking.
Pat Immen, director, said she was in the library, totally alone, and head a toilet flushing (she could hear water in the pipes). Another person had heard the same story from maintenance.
According to legend, a janitor died of a heart attack while working his nightly shift at the library. His body, they say, was found on a couch in the basement. Most report that this happened in the 1940s, though there isn't any proof. Just stories.
Holly said it's possible that the janitor is the spirit responsible (that would explain the flushing toilets), but she also said the death may have occurred in one of the library's former homes, like the Fowler Building.
Just before we left - and boy, was I ready to get back upstairs - a librarian related her experience when on her first day working at the library. She was in the basement with another coworker and asked, "So, any good ghost stories here?" At that moment, a book fell from a shelf a short distance from where they stood.
We'll take that as a yes.