Explore the haunted and unusual this Halloween

UBC Library has celebrated the transformation of its spaces, but when we went hunting it appeared several spirits have yet to release their hold on certain historical spots. In addition to staff reports of books spontaneously jumping off shelves, we learned about a chilling tale of a particular area in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

“At night in Room 203, you can hear the distinct sound of someone typing (near the front of the room), when no one else is in the office,” says Julie Mitchell, Managing Librarian of the Chapman Learning Commons. “When I still worked down there, I often found myself double checking to see if someone was there.”

The office space has been occupied by many different staff over the years, and even has a hidden fireplace behind the office walls. 

Several other myths with UBC Library connections have been well-publicized in Vancouver. In one, the spirit of a hitchhiker headed to the Library haunts University Boulevard. In another, an old woman in a white dress appears and then vanishes when approached.

The Library has abundant resources on the ghoulish, eerie and downright unnerving. Sarah Romkey, Archivist in Rare Books & Special Collections, shared an image described simply in the archives as “Haunted alley, Vancouver.” 

Haunted alley image

Haunted Alley, Vancouver

Library users are invited to explore books such as The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts and Supernatural Stories Around British Columbia.

Enjoy being scared? Browse the Library’s selection of horror films: Halloween (1978); Halloween (2007); Halloween II; Nightmare on Elm Street; Saw; Saw II; Saw III; Saw IV; The Ring (US); The Ring Two; Ringu 2; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003); The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2; Cabin in the Woods; Amityville Horror (1979) and Amityville Horror (2005). 

As an antidote to the scary Halloween tales, Lorne Madgett, eResources & Access Library Specialist, offers an alternative perspective. The Ghost in the Machine, published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, provides a counterbalance to ghost stories from a scientific perspective. Learn more from UBC psychology professor Sheila Woody about why we enjoy being scared.