Several years before I started this blog in 2010, a series of articles by George Eberhart about haunted libraries was published in the Encyclopedia Britannica Blog. This comprehensive list, still up on the now defunct blog, covers perhaps a few hundred libraries throughout the world with a concentration on the United States. After perusing the list and noting the many Southern libraries missing from the list, I’ve decided to create my own list here.
Like theatres, it seems that every good library has its own ghost. George Eberhart argues that there are two reasons for libraries to be haunted: one, that the library inhabits a building that may have been the scene of a tragedy, or two, that the library may be haunted by a former librarian or benefactor who may continue to watch over it.
Allen J. Ellender Memorial Library
Nicholls State University Campus
Nicholls State University opened originally as Francis T. Nicholls Junior College of Louisiana State University in 1948. Eight years later, the school became a separate entity from LSU and developed a four-year curriculum. While the school is relatively young among schools in Louisiana, the campus has proven to be especially paranormally active. Perhaps the echoes of the 1887 Thibodaux massacre, a protest by African-American farm workers in the area which turned violent when whites began to hunt down and kill organizers and participants, may be to blame for this.
The Allen J. Ellender Memorial Library is one of many campus buildings with reported paranormal activity. According to Point of Vue Houma magazine, the spirit of a girl has been seen wandering the floors of Ellender Library. An article in My New Orleans magazine provides the description of the experience a janitor had one night after hearing footsteps coming from a locked librarian’s office. Moments later he watched as a girl with a bookbag, clad in a mini-skirt and with waist-length brown hair, walked through a wall and vanished. Near the spot where the janitor had his encounter, a student later caught a brief video of a shadowy form crossing the room and vanishing.
- Frois, Jeanne. “School spirits in Thibodaux.” My New Orleans. October 2012.
- “Local haunts: Fact or Fiction?” Point of Vue Houma. 30 September 2015.
Eunice Public Library
222 South Second Street
Staff of the Eunice Public Library believe that a spirit may be haunting the building. See my article, “Louisiana Noteworthy Haunts—6/3/2014,” for further information.
Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum
3201 Centenary Boulevard
While the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum is more a museum and less a library, I think it still deserves to be listed here. This museum is one of twelve throughout the country that have been established to display documents from the Karpeles Manuscript Library, one of the largest collections of documents and manuscripts in the world. The collection was created by businessman David Karpeles and his wife and contains many notable historical documents including drafts of the Bill of Rights, the Confederate Constitution, Mozart’s La Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, and letters from Christopher Columbus.
The Shreveport location is housed within a structure that was constructed as the First Church of Christ, Scientist in the 1920s. The museum has been housed in the old church for roughly 15 years. During that time, museum staff and visitors have had a number of odd experiences including seeing shadow-like apparitions, smelling odd odors, having objects manipulated and moved by unseen hands, and have been touched by or feeling the presence of spirits. Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations, the state’s most prominent paranormal investigation organization, investigated the building on three separate occasions during 2013, though results were mostly inconclusive.
- “The Karpeles Manuscript Library.” Karpeles Manuscript Library. Accessed 23 April 2019.
- Lau, Maya. “Shreveport’s house of relics, run by a phantom.” Shreveport Times. 17 February 2015.
- Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations. “Investigation Summary Report: Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum.” Accessed 29 January 2015.
- Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations. “Investigation Summary Report: Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, Follow Up 20 July 2013.” Accessed 29 January 2015.
- Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations. “Investigation Summary Report: Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, 2nd Follow Up 14 September 2013.” Accessed 29 January 2015.
Milton H. Latter Memorial Library
5120 St. Charles Avenue
When Hurricane Katrina roared into New Orleans in 2005, some believe that the Latter Memorial Library was spared damage by the diminutive spirit of a former silent film star. Indeed, since the library’s opening in 1948, visitors and staff have seen a “woman-child” spirit, as well as smelling the odor of exotic perfume, and witnessing lights mysteriously flickering within the Italianate mansion.
In the heyday of silent film, Marguerite Clark was second only to “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford in the hearts of moviegoing Americans. The child-like star gained her popularity first on the New York stage, then on film in 1914. At the height of her fame in 1921, she retired from entertainment to live with her husband in their New Orleans mansion (which now houses this library). Clark’s husband was killed in a plane crash in 1938, and the widow moved to New York where she died in 1940. Due to the loss of many of Clark’s films her fame has been overshadowed by other actresses whose films have survived.
- Marguerite Clark. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 23 April 2019.
- Mattoon, Nancy. “Glamorous ghost haunts Louisiana library.” Book Patrol Blog. 30 October 2009.
Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center
315 North Main Street
The building housing the Opelousas Museum has a long and interesting past. It was built in 1935 to house a funeral home and has since hosted a church and the city’s library for about a year. With such a history, and its current use as a repository for relics of the city’s past, there’s little surprise that the building is haunted. Doors open and close by themselves, loud noises issue from empty rooms, and several visitors have sensed such bad vibes that they stop at the museum’s door and refuse to enter.
- Coen, Chere Dastugue. Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
- Hartley, Carola Lillie. “Opelousas Trivia: The story behind the city’s first public library.” Daily World. 7 December 2017.
Williams Research Center
410 Chartres Street
Housing the research portion of The Historic New Orleans Collection–a collection of artifacts and archives covering the history of New Orleans and the region–the old Second City Criminal Court and Third District Police Station building still may contain the spirits of police officers and offenders. For further information, please see my article, “Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter-Chartres Street.”