Are You Afraid of the Stacks?

by Alyssa Lamontagne CC ’11

Sometimes, as a Butler Circulation Employee, I am afraid to go into the stacks.

Not because of ghosts, though my boss at circulation has told me several times about a rumor of a small girl who haunts the stacks on the sixth floor, and to be honest, I almost believe her. Afterall, we did have Ghostbusters here before …

And I’m not afraid of the hungry graduate students who haven’t left in three days, while they wander around bleary-eyed, pulling out canned preserves in Library Red Zones, their dedication to their studies renders them inert.

No, what I’m afraid of is walking in on a romantic encounter.

In 2006, The Spectator published the 116 Things to Do at Columbia and listed hooking up in the stacks at number 115, rendering the act an official Columbia tradition, one still rumored to happen more often than it should.

What makes the idea of hooking up in the stacks so special? Can it really be just to check an item off a list? Maybe it’s the idea that so many people have done it before; we are, after all, all suckers for tradition. Maybe it’s just the thrill of being caught.

Or maybe it’s something more than that. There’s something special about Butler. Some people spend more time here than they do at home. I like to think that all Columbia students have a desire to really possess the campus, and Butler is at the heart of almost every undergraduate’s experience here. The fact is that we’ll all be leaving here one day and we all want to leave our mark on this campus, at least figuratively.

I think it speaks to the importance of Butler in the minds of everyone on campus that to hook up in its innermost depths is on that list.

As lovely as that may be though, it’s still not pretty to walk in on.