It's been a while since students actually used books, but college libraries used to be considered the cornerstone of a good university. Today, they're still a thing to be marveled at. We're talking museum-like structures with high ceilings and plushy indoor seating that make you want to curl up and pretend like you're living at Hogwarts. Hovering above the hundreds of books lining those dusty shelves are robust histories and tales of academic grandeur — not to mention a few stories that are, well, a little sketchy.
That's right. Every school has its secrets, and those are usually found housed in the campus library.
Take my school library at the New York Pratt Institute, for instance. It certainly has a rich backstory — it's where they filmed part of the adult entertainment classic, Debbie Does Dallas. In 1978, the low-budget film received permission from the school's administration to shoot scenes on campus (though the school allegedly wasn't aware of the content of the film at the time).
Today's students, naturally, find this story hilarious, but it definitely forces a few people to think twice about heading to the library to study — you look at stains on books in a whole new light.
But wait! It gets weirder. From library ghost sightings to media centers that look like they could double as prisons, here are nine of the creepiest college libraries in the country.
1. PRATT INSTITUTE — BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
While Pratt's porn history may not turn you off, the library's glass floors (designed by Tiffany and Co., of all places), just might. If you’re wearing a skirt and you need a book on the third floor, be careful not to stand too close to the clear gap in front of the stacks, unless you want to flash anyone who happens to be looking up.
2. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN — MADISON, WISCONSIN
Memorial Library has long been deemed eerie by students. The dark stacks and dim lighting are made even more creepy by the presence of study cages. The gated cells may offer solitude for learning, but the jail-like atmosphere creeps many students out. "Always a good time studying at Alcatraz...err...Memorial Library," one student, Danny Supernaw, captioned this Instagram pic.
But the prison ambience isn't the only creepy part of the building. The library has a rich history of hauntings. According to the school paper The Badger Herald, there are two ghosts who are believed to haunt the premises. Katie Buller Kintner, a former staff member, reported she once heard the name "Sally Brown" eerily whispered during one of her shifts over Christmas break. The second ghost is said to be that of former professor Helen Constance White, whose spirit haunts the library even 40 years after her passing.
3. NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY — EVANSTON, ILLINOIS
This library might not be haunted, but it certainly isn't pretty, either. Thanks to its solid, concrete facade (which prompted NU student Celeste Mora to describe it as a “Russian prison”), this library landed itself on the “Architecture of Doom” blog for its ugly exterior.
4. UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON — SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
This library story is sure to give you the creeps. In 2012, it was discovered that some returned books were playing host to bed bugs. "They noticed some spotting near the spine,” librarian Stephanie Lamson reported to news outlets. “And as they looked closer they realized there were insects in the book." Experts worked quickly to freeze the books and kills the bugs, but there's always a chance that new creepy crawlies could appear. In its history, UW has had "two incidents of bed bugs hitching a ride on books," ... yuck.
5. VILLANOVA — PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
“It’s super outdated and creepy,” a student who wished to remain anonymous said of this library. According to the student, it’s also rumored to be haunted, and has unfinished concrete rooms with no windows. Seems like Villanova’s library is eager to join the Russian prison ranks of Northwestern.
6. PENN STATE UNIVERSITY — STATE COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA
According to some stories, graduate student Betsy Aardsma was stabbed once through the heart in the stacks of the Pattee Library in 1969. Throughout the years, students have claimed to see her ghost wandering the building at night. One student who was looking for books in the aisle where Betsy supposedly died once reported that she mysteriously felt she was being strangled, and was inexplicably unable to cry for help. Aardsma's murder has never been solved.
7. WELLS COLLEGE — AURORA, NEW YORK
Among popular Wells College myths and legends is one that claims that years before the school's library, Morgan Hall, was built, a fire destroyed the building that stood on campus before it. It's believed a security guard who was there working to get students to safety was killed in the tragedy. Students now say that his spirit haunts the area where the new library was built; one girl even claims that the security guard reappeared one night when she requested that someone walk her back to her dorm, and walked right through her before disappearing completely. Creepy, right?
8. BRADLEY UNIVERSITY — PEORIA, ILLINOIS
Last year, The Princeton Review ranked this college library among the worst in the country based on feedback from more than 100,000 students who participated in a survey. Add to that the masturbating man that two women reported seeing in the building last May, and you have yourself a recipe for one disastrous study location.
9. ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY — MINNESOTA
In 1997, an unmarked burial ground was discovered when builders began excavating to construct the campus library at St. Cloud State University. Naturally, the school went through with the project anyway, and now many students claim the building is haunted, saying they can see a ghostly soldier dressed in 19th century clothing wandering the halls. The bones found at the site (both adult and children's) were later used as study tools in various classes. Yikes.