This article is more than 4 years old

It all stacks up: strange things happen in university libraries

Paul Greatrix rounds up some of the stranger things that have happened in a university library.
This article is more than 4 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

Beyond all that studying and researching there’s always something going on in university libraries.

We’ve looked before at the very special association between university libraries and their cats and the feline fun which has often ensued in the stacks.

From the files of True Crime on Campus

And, as aficionados of True crime on Campus will be well aware, there can be strange goings on in libraries too. Take these examples

15:00 Security were called to George Green Library as an altercation had been reported with two Students. It was reported that one student was threatening to throw a chair at the other student after personal property had been moved. Security attended and resolved the situation. Student Welfare informed.

0540 Security were asked to speak to a Student who had taken Pizza into George Green Library. Library staff stated that the Student could not take food into the area of the Library they were in. Officers spoke to the Student the Pizza was left at Reception until the Student left.

1200 Report of a foul smell in Hallward Library, Staff reported that they thought there was a problem with the sewage pipes again. Security attended the cause of the smell was found to be a member of staff’s lunch. The Estates Plumber who had been called to attend was cancelled.

1535 Report of an altercation in George Green Library, Security attended on arrival Library Staff had separated the Students. Officers spoke to the Students who were arguing about mobile phone chargers. One of the Students had called the Police who attended. The Compliance and Investigations Manager is to be informed.

0450 Report of a group of Students drinking beer and playing loud Music in the Hallward Library. University Security attended and spoke to the Students. They were asked to turn the music off and stop drinking beer. Library Staff to be informed.

1000 Report that a Rat had been seen in George Green Library, Security attended Estates Help Desk to be informed.

1915 Report that a person dressed as a clown was attempting to scare people adjacent to Hallward Library, Security attended after a search of the area no clowns were located.

Frightening stuff, especially that last one.

But what’s that smell?

A piece of fruit prompted the evacuation of an Australian university library last week.

On Friday afternoon fire and rescue teams in the Australian Capital Territory responded to calls of “a strong smell of gas” inside the University of Canberra library.
The library was evacuated, and the territory’s emergency services released a statement saying hazardous materials crews were searching the building and conducting “atmospheric monitoring”.
“Firefighters have completed a search of the building and located the source of the smell,” was the tactful statement from the emergency services department.

It turned out to be a durian fruit which had been left by an air vent and had filled the library with its pungent odour. Nice.

And then, even more fishy, was this tale from Santa Clara University of a rather surprising find in a library book. It seems it dates back to some historical fun and games with a rival institution:

This sardine had been in that book for around 35-40 years apparently and dates from a time when students from another institution, St Mary’s, drove to the library and distributed wrapped sardines through the card catalogue and reference books. Very mature behaviour.

Just like that

The late great Tommy Cooper once reported a close encounter with a librarian:

He said ‘I’m going to chop off the bottom of one of your trouser legs and put it in a library.’ I thought ‘That’s a turn-up for the books.’

But perhaps the strangest finding in a library book happened very recently at the University of Liverpool Library…

The Tab (which is rapidly becoming the higher education media outlet of record given the regularity with which it is now quoted in mainstream press) reported that the library had broadcast the fact that a student had handed in a book with a rather cheesy bookmark. As The Tab put it: “you cannot brie serious”.

University librarians certainly have their work cut out.

Bonus feature

If you like all of this Registrarism content then you might also be interested in this new series of podcasts in which I talk to a fellow Registrar, Dave Hall, about higher ed stuff. There are many other strange goings on in university libraries and elsewhere under discussion: from Bill Clinton and Jeremy Vine to job titles and gas pipeline issues there is much to divert.

One response to “It all stacks up: strange things happen in university libraries

Leave a Reply