Haunted Libraries

source: gizmodo.com


There are plenty of delightfully scary haunted library stories. But it’s one thing to read about a haunted library and quite another to be in one.

So many of the libraries I visited in my youth seemed to have some sort of … presence.

Now I’m not saying there was definitely something there. But I’m not saying there wasn’t.

They were all in old buildings, with extraordinarily creaky floors. Pause here to note that in one of our previous houses, if you were sitting in the family room, sometimes you would hear the sound of footsteps walking slowly from one side to the other in the room above. And, no, it wasn’t squirrels on the roof, or the house settling, or our imaginations. It was distinctive. It was purposeful. It was freaky. While it never felt scary to go into that room where the footsteps occurred, it always gave me chills if I was home alone, sitting downstairs, suddenly hearing the heavy tread above.

But back to the old libraries: many of them not only had the creaky floors but also very dim rooms and, for some reason, oddly angled nooks and crannies. The shelves were so tall you couldn’t see around them. This all had an isolating and disorienting effect, especially to a kid. Often, while wandering around, I had the sense that I wasn’t alone. That perhaps someone—something?—was watching.

And college libraries can be unsettling too—especially those dark, secluded stacks. (Yes, that prompted one scene of The Semester of Our Discontent.) *shivers*

Libraries are among my favorite places in the world, so I will never stop going to them. I did not see a ghost, so I don’t know why it felt as though one might be lurking around. But I will admit that every once in a while, it became necessary to run over to the check-out counter just to be near other humans. (Wait, did I say that out loud?) I mean: to check out a book.

Any deliciously creepy libraries (or other locations) in your past or present?


26 thoughts on “Haunted Libraries

  1. No haunted libraries in my past, although there was one in my NY neighborhood on the Upper West Side that could have been. And my friend Marilyn Levinson writes a Haunted Library series (as Allison Brooke). But I did buy my beloved copy of “Wuthering Heights” at The Haunted Bookshop in Cuttingsville, VT. It was in an old Victorian mansion across from a cemetery, where there was a mausoleum for the family that built the house overlooking it. SPOOKY!!

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  2. No haunted libraries in my lifetime. Although I do see the occasional ghost walking the roads around here, since I’m in the middle of civil war territory.
    One time I was at a hotel for classes in Dallas. I checked in and rushed to class. When I got back to the room, it looked like someone had taken a nap in the bed, woke up, and realized they had been in the wrong room! Nothing else was disturbed but the bed linens. And no, the bed was perfectly made when I dropped off my suitcases.
    I called security, and they checked the lock system. No one had been in the room between my two entries.
    Then there was the next day when I waited half an hour for a friend who was in the elevator going between floors, without it opening. We found out after we left we were staying in a tower that was haunted. I would have enjoyed the two events more if I’d known it might be ghosts instead of an intruder and a malfunction!

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  3. No haunted libraries for me…but I did stay in a haunted hotel room at a writers conference once. It was sort of like a castle and I was a visiting editor and got a special room off by myself. The bed had curtains. I stayed up all night, wide-awake, “preparing” my keynote speech for the next morning. Nothing scary happened but I had the very definite feeling I was being watched. The next morning st breakfast the organizers asked if I’d enjoyed the “haunted” room. Ummm…

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  4. Definitely haunted! I wrote a blog post a year or so ago about the woman who had a favorite chair in the area that became my office at Nazareth College. She had died by the time I started work, but she was very much present and enjoying a few tech tricks at my expense. I never knew her name, but I honored her love for the cozy corner by the triple window. –kate, writing as c. t. collier

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    1. Tech tricks? That sounds intriguing! One of the stories on the link above says a librarian was using the computer and turned away for a sec only to see, upon re-looking, her name spelled out across the screen… 🙂


  5. Never experienced a haunting in a library but my last office building was haunted for sure. If I worked nights and was alone in the building, I could hear feet running back and forth upstairs and doors opening and closing. I went up a few times to investigate and found no one there. The building wasn’t even that old.

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  6. In a way there are spirits in those old huge libraries. They are the spirits of the writers engraved upon the pages of old tomes of literature, history, philosophy, and poetry, stacked upon the shelves. Their maddening nights of loneliness, their anger at the injustices of the world, their anxiety over what others thought of them, their words of joy and happiness, their heartbreak, all bound up in book bindings. Libraries are more than repositories of the arts, knowledge, and literature. They are tombs, graveyards for deceased authors, in which their spirits roam those halls and bookshelves, living on beyond the grave.


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