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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Haunted Library Tours!

WSU librarian Lara Cummings spooks students.
Courtesy: WSU News Center
Here's something so cool, I just had to share it. An enterprising employee at Washington State University is giving "haunted" tours of libraries there, complete with some haunted history and eerie stories. 

As the press release explains:
Librarians have a reputation for being quiet and well-behaved. But not Washington State University librarian Lara Cummings during her Haunted Library Tours. She howls. She shrieks. She leaps from behind walls to spook tour members.
"She’s hilarious. Who’d have guessed it could be so fun to learn their way around a library?” said Brie Brenner, an RA [resident assistant] at McEachern Residence Hall, during a recent night tour.

Cummings organized the tours as a way to bring new or apprehensive students (and now, members of the public) inside the Holland and Terrell Libraries, two interconnected buildings that can appear daunting at first, she said. Also, many students think the Internet will provide everything they need for research, which isn’t true.
"And even if it is on the Internet, getting the right information can be like trying to get a sip of water from a fire hydrant. We want students to know there are people here to help them,” said Cummings.
You can read the full press release, which includes a couple of ghost stories, here. 

There's another telling quote near the end of the news story: 
Kariri Kiambuthi, another RA from McEachern Hall, said he found Cummings’ technique of weaving scary stories and colorful explorations enticing.  "One of the guys who came had never been inside this library before. I bet he’ll be back, even without the ghost stories.”
The press release ends, smartly, with info on how to book a tour and when they're available, to drive even more traffic to the libraries. 

Of course, not everyone is into ghost stories, but I share this because it's a great example of a tactic to make libraries more interesting and to portray the buildings and the info professionals in a new light (or in a new darkness - mwa ha ha!!). College students, especially, can be a tough crowd, because they're so overloaded with information and because these young "digital natives" are apt to avoid libraries, thinking they can find anything themselves on the internet. So anything that piques their interest and gives them a positive personal contact can make a difference. Any type of library could do this too, especially during the Halloween or All Saints Day seasons. 

I've heard of public libraries that keep webcams going in an attempt to catch evidence of reputed hauntings. (Here's one from Indiana.) October is obviously the perfect time to play up those angles. 

And just for your own enjoyment, check out this list of Haunted Libraries Around the World from Encyclopaedia Britannica's blog. BOO!

UPDATE: This story was picked up by a local TV station. See the video here.

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