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Thursday, May 13, 2021

A spooky study spot

By Ray Garcia

 

Wilson Library contains the works of authors, poets and intellectuals from the past. What most don’t know is that these texts aren’t the only thing haunting the building, but the ghost of the first librarian, Mabel Zoe Wilson.

Library assistant Zoey Wade said she has experienced the ghostly activity in the building.

“Sometimes, her presence is so unreal,” Wade said. “You can be alone in a room, or walking down a hall and just know that you aren’t really alone.”

According to Marian Alexander’s “A History of the Western Washington University Library 1899-1998,” Wilson was born in 1878 in Athens, Ohio. After working at the library for 43 years, Wilson retired and later died at the age of 86.

Although it has been years since Wilson has physically walked the halls of the library, student workers and staff believe her spirit remains to ensure the institution she helped build stays at its best.

Mabel Zoe Wilson, first librarian at Wilson library, worked there for 43 years. // Photo by Kirstyn Nyswonger

At night, you can hear footsteps when no one is present. The lights flicker at seemingly coincidental moments. At times, you will even feel yourself getting goosebumps due to a sudden change in room temperature, Wade said.

“During my closing shifts, I have to walk through the library to turn off all the lights and to make sure our patrons leave,” she said. “Then I do a second sweep through the dark, and that’s when things really start to happen.”

One night, Wade had finished turning off the lights in Wilson 4E when a single light in the middle of the room turned back on by itself. When she returned to turn it off, Wade said as soon as she turned off the light, the shelves around her started to shake.

“I never ran so fast in my life,” Wade said.

Kaylee Botting, former student building manager at Western Libraries, remembered the fear she had throughout her time at the library. Botting said she was glad when she found out her position did not include having to walk through the dark corridors at closing time.

During one of her rounds, Botting was in 4C, affectionately referred to as the Harry Potter room, when she saw the pages of a book flipping on their own. After quickly checking around the room, she realized not only were all the windows closed, but there was no draft in the room either. Botting captured the occurrence on video.

At the top of the east and west stairwells are secluded nooks that overlook Wilson 4 Central. Western graduate Sloane Ralston said one of her roommates found a Ouija board lying on the floor in one of those dark, hidden pockets at top of the staircases.

There are parts of Wilson Library that have more paranormal activity than others like 4 Central and 5 East. However, the basement seems to be a hotspot for ghostly encounters.

Ralston had a strange experience of her own in the lower levels of the library.

“I was passing right between the door to basement east and the elevator door, and I had a really weird floral scent come at me, but it smelled like something an old woman would wear,” she said.

Others have turned from trying to understand the why, and instead focus on what they can do to steer clear from any paranormal activity.

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