Trapped In The Stacks!

posted in: Art, Work 9
The National Library of France in Paris. Also known as Heaven Itself, as long as I can read French in heaven.) Image: Wikipedia.
The National Library of France in Paris. There wasn’t an image of the library where I was and besides, this photo is proof of heaven itself, as long as I can read French in heaven, which I imagine could be arranged.) Image: Wikipedia.


The other day, I spent some hours doing research for my Big Project in a downtown library. This library is a very, very quiet one. If you turn your pages too loudly, you get murderous stares from the librarians and the aides and anyone else in the place. I tried to open a piece of butterscotch and that was not gonna happen. The moment I pulled it out of my purse, two people looked over at me like, “Really? Really, with the candy?

So you can imagine the shock when I heard a very loud “knock-knock-knock!” It was a pronounced rapping on a wooden door: “Knock-knock-knock!” The library’s main reading room is a rotunda with storage spaces off its main floor and inside the round room are bays and stacks and shelves. You can’t really get lost in there but there are alcoves. There are nooks. What I’m trying to say is that I couldn’t where the knock was coming from.

I looked up when it happened. The gal at the next table over looked up. The squinchy library aide looked up and looked annoyed. No one came in or out, though, and there was no sound of a door opening or closing. But whatever. We all went back to our researching or our homework or our squinching.

Then it happened again, about five minutes later: “Knock! Knock! Knock!”

The gal and I looked at each other. Where was the knock coming from? I whispered, “That’s a knock, right? Someone is knocking.” She nodded and looked about. I got up and peered around our immediate vicinity and into the alcoves nearby. I spied an elevator; I hadn’t noticed it before. Maybe someone couldn’t get out of the elevator! I went over to it and pushed the button. But when the doors opened, the elevator was empty.

I decided the knocking was definitely the work of a library ghost. Hey, there was a library ghost in Ghostbusters. It happens all the time, people. And the moment I thought about there being a real-life (-death) library ghost, my brain went into Edgar Allen Poe mode, dreaming up storms and candles blowing out in the wind, of doomed lovers who die writing poetry in the library and haunt it forever. I imagined a gloomy scholar trapped in the stacks!

When I got back to my chair, the gal at the next table over widened her eyes a little and made a face like, “Okay, this is all super creepy.” And before I had time to think better of it, I whispered to her:

“One imagines someone trapped in the stacks!”

It just came out that way. I told you: I was in Poe Mode!

The girl looked at me like, “Ooo-kay. Let’s not pursue small talk.” But she didn’t have to worry; I had a lot of research to do and I needed to be available for the ghost if he needed anything.


9 Responses

  1. Mary Ann
    | Reply

    There is nothing as good as a ghost in the stacks!

  2. Jo Chalk
    | Reply

    Thanks for the giggle, Mary.

  3. Liz Flaherty
    | Reply

    I work in a library. Every night at closing time, the elevator does a weird thing–some thumping and settling. We have learned to ignore it, which makes me wonder what we’ll have to ignore next. I’m pretty sure library ghosts are real.

  4. Elaine Theriault
    | Reply

    Kind of makes you think about that movie whose name I cannot remember where the girl had the massive bookcase in her room. Dad is an astronaut, comes back from the the future to warn her through the bookcase. Who knows???

    • Carla E
      | Reply

      ah Elaine, I’m with you. I remember the story line but can’t remember the title. Movies and related trivia don’t stick with me well.

  5. Lindsey
    | Reply

    I retired from our county library. One evening at closing when we checked the restrooms there was a man who had died sitting on the toilet in a stall. Accrding to the coroner he had died soon after we had opened that morning. And people think libraries are such mellow places to work.

  6. Michelle
    | Reply

    I’m a retired academic librarian. There were reported sounds and sightings of a lady ghost at our library, but I never got to see or hear her. [Disappointed sigh]

  7. Liz Smith
    | Reply

    Ah, the stacks! I haunted the BioMed library at ZuCLA when I was in graduate school there. The stacks are indeed s world unto themselves!

  8. Barbara
    | Reply

    Nothing like that ever happened at the library I used to work at, except the time a car drove into the magazine/newspaper area.
    Thank goodness no one was hurt. Libraries do have sounds of their own which you get used to.

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