‘Haunted’ locked sections in the HBLL

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A quick Google search will reveal that the Harold B. Lee Library is rumored to be one of the most haunted places in Utah.

According to shadowlands.net, people have reported paranormal activity on the fourth floor, particularly the music and dance sections, of the library.

The International Primrose Viola Archives room is home to viola music scores but it is also rumored to be haunted. Photo by Sarah Hill.
The International Primrose Viola Archives room is home to viola music scores but it is also rumored to be haunted. Photo by Sarah Hill.

Among the local legends, the library is noted for the “haunted” Viola Archives room and the “Ghost Chair” in the Harp room.

Myrna Layton, music and dance section public service manager, said the “Ghost Chair” first appeared about ten years ago in the International Harp Archive room.

The chair stood out to the librarians because it was completely different from the other chairs in the Harp room. The “Ghost Chair” has a tall, straight back and is covered in cushioned fabric, while the other chairs are plain wood.

“We would move it out into the hall,” Layton said, “and someone would move it back overnight.”

Layton also said the “Ghost Chair” is mentioned in a book by Linda Dunning called “Restless Spirits: Utah’s Small Town Ghosts,” which is available at the library.

While Layton does not believe the “Ghost Chair” is actually haunted, she points out it is wrong to assume the chair was a mere oversight by the librarians. In fact, librarians asked each other about the chair to find out who had placed it in the Harp room, but no one accounted for it — a mystery, since the Harp room requires a door code to enter.

Another supposedly haunted location in the library is the Primrose International Viola Archive room, also located on the fourth floor. Former employees of the music and dance section told Layton about their spooky encounters in the viola archive.

The International Primrose Viola Archives room in the HBLL. Photo by Sarah Hill.
The International Primrose Viola Archives room in the HBLL. Photo by Sarah Hill.

One student told Layton he was shelving some music scores in the viola archive room by himself. As he finished and turned to leave, all the scores he had just shelved fell to the floor. Another employee, whom Layton described as level-headed, claimed she felt something brush her hand as she turned the lights out.

A third student told Layton about a creepy experience in the music recordings room. The student went to the music recordings room to nap on the floor between the shelves.

“She heard sneaky footsteps coming towards her, and she thought it was a coworker,” Layton said.

The student tried to ignore the presence, hoping they would get bored and leave. When the footsteps did not retreat, she opened her eyes to see who it was, but no one was there.

Layton retold the employees’ stories while smiling. She thought it was important to note that most of the stories started when the fourth-floor heating system was having technical difficulties, resulting in a “spooky” atmosphere because the temperature was inconsistently hot then cold, and vents made wheezing and creaking noises.

Layton also said a former employee was the one that posted online that the rooms were haunted as a joke. Other librarians, however, claim the stories had been told long before that.

Some of the stories are even told to new student employees at orientations.

Renae Dorius, an Interlibrary Loan student employee studying archaeology, said areas like the viola archives are only creepy because employees are told they are creepy by coworkers.

Dorius was told when the old Interlibrary Loan office was located below the viola archives room, some employees claimed they occasionally heard creepy music coming from the archives.

While Dorius said she does not think the archives are haunted, she did mention some “sketchy books” she has seen in the HBLL.

“There are books with spells in (the) Locked Case (room),” Dorius said.

The Locked Case room is home to donated books that donors did not want on the regular shelves. Students can access the books, but must ask a library employee to retrieve the materials for them; for this reason, the Locked Case room the is often jokingly compared to the restricted section at Hogwarts by employees.

Indeed, the common theme of the “haunted” spots in the library seems to be that they are all in restricted sections that require door codes to enter and are places in which students are often alone.

Layton said she does not believe the library is haunted but if there were any ghosts, they would be benevolent ghosts.

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