The Ghosts of Senate House is one part of a creative research project led by Sarah Sparkes. It serves as an archive for uncanny, apocryphal stories emanating from Senate House. These stories formed part of "a Magical library for the 21st Century" an archive of writings, recordings, artwork, artefacts, and other contributions, which was first shown at the University of London as part of The Bloomsbury Festival October 2011.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

1980s Memories of a Library Assistant

"For some reason I remembered my time as a library assistant at Senate House today so had a look on the web ... I came across your website. I worked there from 1983 - 1986. I think every library staff member had an experience of some kind - just like those on the blog. The Harry Price library was still there in those days and also Mr Wesencraft.

Here's some of my strange moments:

1. The first time I went to the Harry Price library I was accompanied by another staff member to show me around. Can't remember which book we were looking for but the first one I picked up was one by Harry Lorayne. My name is Lorraine. I told my colleague and she hurriedly found the book we went for and said we should get out! I also was in there once and books dropped on the floor. Everyone mentioned the chair in there that moved but I never saw that happen - Mr Wesencraft said it was only psychic forces and nothing to fear.

[the old HPL - Photograph by Tom Ruffles]
I never minded going to the Harry Price Library when I knew Mr Wesencraft was in there – he was such a calm man and I was never afraid when he was there – used to be petrified going alone when he wasn’t.

2. As I remember - the art books were held on the 7th floor. I went up to 'fetch' (as it was termed) one and a very pleasant man in a grey suit with tidy white hair and beard came along the row I was in and said to me 'I am just going to cross your path'. I got my books and came back down in the lift. I went there later but he had gone. A few days later I was telling my colleagues about the nice man and I asked our boss who had been given a stack pass that day. It turned out that none were issued.

I remember the lift having problems - nobody liked going in that alone."

Mr Alan Wesencraft (1912-2007), or 'Wesey', was Honorary Curator of the Harry Price Library at Senate House. He was known to innumerable researchers as a helpful, kind and extremely knowledgeable man, who would guide people ably around the collection and its contents. He was introduced to later library staff as "the only man now working in the Library who met and worked with Harry Price".