Gather round, readers… these strange goings on at libraries around the country are guaranteed to scare your books out of their sleeves. 

Read on to see the locations of the most haunted libraries in America, and what exactly people have reported seeing there.

North Providence Union Free Library

Location: North Providence, Rhode Island
Founded: 1870

A library so notorious for its hauntings, it appeared on the show Kindred Spirits on the Travel Channel after generations of librarians reported spooky happenings such as the elevator moving floors by itself, their names being called late at night, and the apparition of a tall man roaming the halls.

The show, apparently, was able to explain why the paranormal activity in the RI History Room had picked up so much in July 2020. The bust of former Mayor Salvatore Mancini had been moved into the room that year. Former trustee Herbert Hopkins, whom the room was named after and who lobbied for the extra space, died before it was created, and obviously his ‘ghost’ did not take too kindly to the former Mayor’s bust being transferred to “his” room…

The Grey Lady of the Willard Library

Location: Evansville, Indiana
Founded: 1885

haunted library in indiana
Credit: Indiana Landmarks

A library so haunted, it has its own ghost camera website here

The Willard Public Library is the oldest public building in Indiana, and is said to be haunted by the ghost known only as The Grey Lady. Some have speculated the apparition is Louise Carpenter, the daughter of Willard Carpenter, who founded the library.

Whoever the ghost is, she’s appeared to people in windows when looking at the building from the outside, and several current librarians have also seen her. Terrifyingly, people also report feeling her touch on their hair or earrings…

The Library offers a Ghost Tour every October, and this attracts hundreds of eager ghost spotters to try and catch a glimpse of the Grey Lady herself.

The Grey Lady is so old and steeped in tradition, everyone still uses the traditional English spelling of ‘Grey’ when writing about her, which, as a native Brit, I give the thumbs up for!

Houston Public Library

Location: Houston, TX
Founded: 1904

One of the larger libraries that boasts a claim of being haunted, the Houston Public Library’s Julia Ideson Building has been the subject of ghostly music for decades.

Legend has it, it’s the music of Julius Frank Cramer, who was a former night janitor who practiced violin. Oddly enough, at least for us in modern times, is the fact Cramer actually lived in the library, though it’s unclear whether he died there or not. Either way, we advise you to keep your ears peeled if you go to the library to donate books in Houston!

A wonderful full account of Cramer’s life can be read at the blog Texas Escapes.

Osterhout Free Library

Location: Wilkes-Barre, PA
Founded: 1889

Another library that’s appeared on the Travel Channel, this time on the aptly titled show Ghost Hunters. You can see a preview of books appearing to move in the below clip.

Officially opened in 1889, the building that houses the Free Library was actually built in 1848. The reported hauntings vary from books falling off of shelves, to people hearing their names being called.

The Lady in White: Murry and Leonie Guggenheim Memorial Library

Location: West Long Branch, New Jersey
Founded: 1961

The Guggenheims were a pretty famous family around these parts, and apparently Leonie Guggenheim, wife of Murry, son of Meyer Guggenheim, can be seen wandering the library’s grand staircase, specifically between 11 and midnight every evening.

The library was originally the summer home of this Guggenheim couple, before it was donated to Monmouth College in 1960.

Hoyt Library

Location: Saginaw, Michigan
Founded: 1887

haunted hoyt library

This library houses genealogy records from the area, so yeah, it’s unsurprising it’s considered one of the most haunted locations in all of Michigan, and was the subject of a documentary: A Haunting at the Hoyt Library.

Some of the famous experiences had by both visitors and employees include ghostly tapping of typewriter keys, but the most bizarre occurrence that’s happened on multiple occasions is visitors being greeted by an elderly woman upon arrival.

After the woman had shown them where they needed to go, visitors reported asking the library director to thank the elderly woman, only for him to say there was no woman like that who worked there. Yikes.

According to reports, the ghost is the spirit of the first librarian, Harriet Ames.

Peoria Public Library

Location: Peoria, Illinois
Founded: 1894

This is absolutely one of the most haunted libraries in America, and the conception of the library is a key part of this.

Mrs. Andrew Gray (yes, weird that another Mrs. Gray is mentioned in relation to a haunted library) supposedly put a curse on the land when her family foreclosed on their house at this location.

The library was built on this land in 1894, and incredibly, the first three library directors suffered deaths under “mysterious circumstances.” There isn’t much more information on their deaths than that, I’ve checked a few sources, but staff to this day still say they hear their names being called when they’re alone. A spooky place to donate books in Peoria, for sure.

Ramona Convent Secondary School Library’s Ghostly Nun

Location: Alhambra, California
Founded: 1896

While visions of a ghostly Nun may terrify people based on recent cinematic works, apparently this is a “friendly” Nun who is said to appear and welcome students at the beginning of freshman orientation.

New Hanover Public Library

Location: Wilmington, North Carolina
Founded: 1906

This Carolina library is so haunted several paranormal investigators have fallen ill when researching the North Carolina Room, a hotbed for paranormal activity.

The Main Library is haunted by three ghosts: an older male, older female, and young man, dressed in 19th century clothing. Reported hauntings range from shuffling of feet, unplugging of vacuum cleaners, and the classic calling of librarians’ names.

Westerly Library

Location: Westerly, Rhode Island
Founded: 1894

Odd sounds and movements abound from this New England library, as can be witnessed from this preview of the show Ghost Hunters

The subject of the hauntings is an old librarian named Sally, who apparently floats around causing mischief, however the show were confident this spirit was not malicious, as it the case with most of the ex-librarian-ghosts we’ve covered.

Such is this library’s reputation for hauntings, they organize their own ghost tours every October, giving you the chance to do your own ghost hunting.

Old Bernardsville Library

Location: Bernardsville, New Jersey
Built: 1710 (no longer active)

Though this library isn’t active, the building has been home to bizarre occurrences throughout its long history.

Phyllis Parker, a tavern owner’s daughter, was in love with a doctor who was hanged for treason. She is reported to haunt the library as a result. Check out this excellent Weird N.J article that goes into detail on seances, apparitions, and more when they visited the old library.

Parmly Billings Library

Location: Billings, Montana
Founded: 1901

haunted american library
Credit: Keith Ewing

This library in Billings is home to a grand total of eight spirits, ranging from the basement to the fifth floor.

A particularly frightening example of trickery experienced here was in the 2005 fire code renovation, when a builder was putting up drywall. Upon turning around, he noticed all the chairs behind had been turned directly to face him, as if people were watching him work. He turned them round, only to have them turned toward him yet again.

Research was conducted here by the Montana Paranormal Research Society.

Phoenixville Public Library

Location: Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Founded: 1896

A notorious Pennsylvania haunt, paranormal researchers have caught books flying off shelves during their investigations, and there is supposedly a lady in the attic, so good luck to any librarians having to go and dig around there at night!

Scottsdale Public Library

Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
Founded: 1955

‘Sonoran Paranormal Investigators’ put two branches of this library under the proverbial ETF scope back in 2010: The Arabian Branch and Civic Center Branch.

Reports ranged from cold spots to the good ol’ books flying off of shelves.

Brand Library

Location: Glendale, California
Founded: 1956

haunted library
Credit: Laurie Avocado

The Brands were ‘Glendale’s first family’ and their former family home was turned into the library you see today in 1956. 

Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of odd activity going on in Brand Library, where Leslie Brand apparently still ‘lingers.’ The desecration of some of the family graves around the area probably hasn’t helped, if you’re wont to believe in those sorts of things…

Saline County Library

Location: Benton, Arkansas
Founded: 1967-2002

haunted library in arkansas

There have been some reports online that during the library’s existence in what was the Old Palace Theatre in these years, patrons and librarians both experienced odd occurrences.

These range from noises of another phantom typewriter, and the typical books falling off shelves. Sadly, the library was relocated in 2002, and given the non-specific nature of these occurrences, it is very much an ambiguous entry on the list.

Edge Hill House Library

Location: Fauquier County, Virginia
Founded: Unknown (private)

An odd ‘library’ to finish with, from research it appears the Edge Hill Library was established by the Gloucester Women’s Club sometime in the 1930s. 

The building the library was housed in, however, had been around since 1790. The ghost of Civil War Col. William Chapman is said to haunt this building, and he can be heard tampering with locks and bellowing long into the night, though as the library is private it is harder to substantiate these rumors!

That was a fun collection of libraries to research and put together. Of course, if there are any more that should be added to the list, please let me know. Just don’t go calling my name ominously late at night when you do!

Feature image credit: Willard Library by Kate Sherrill