Main Stacks see share of ‘mischievous behavior’, embarrassing items left behind

Students have studied their pants off in the University Library.

“I found a pair of underpants once,” said Library Specialist Lucy Moynihan, trying to keep a straight face. “I used a towel to pick them up and toss them. I wasn’t about to touch them.”

For two years, Moynihan worked the late shift of the Main Stacks — that hidden world with compact shelving units — which houses more than five million volumes and is accessed from the 2nd Floor of the Main Library.

Not until a student ventures into the stacks does he or she realize what a perfect location they are for mischievous behavior. Boasting 10 levels with ceilings so low most grown men can’t stand upright and basement lights with a “switch on when you enter, off when you leave” policy, it’s not difficult to imagine why library workers have found students rolling around in the stacks.

“I’ve caught people and have just told them to cut it out,” Moynihan said, nonchalantly. “There are a lot of hijinks that go on in the stacks.”

“There’s not much room in the stacks, so I’m not sure how they manage,” added Barbara Trumpinski, senior library specialist at the Funk ACES Library. “I haven’t caught anyone here, but god only knows.”

Moynihan isn’t convinced having sex in the stacks has yet become “a big thing” here like she’s heard it has at other large universities.

Now stationed at the Funk ACES Library, she’s a bit concerned by how regularly birth control pills turn up in its lost and found. She’s pretty sure the owners shouldn’t be missing doses if they’re anything like the stackers.

“A lot of the girls are too embarrassed to come back for their birth control,” Moynihan said, “but it’s not like they left their baby or something; it’s not that big of a deal.”

The workers over at the Undergraduate Library are no strangers to sexually charged bookworms either.

Someone who doesn’t abide by the “finders keepers” principle turned in an unused condom recently to the lost and found.

“We put it in the valuable drawer,” said Beth Dixon, library worker and sophomore in DGS, a bit sheepishly.

“It’s not in here anymore!” announced Library Specialist Bernita Brownlee, as she rummaged through the lost and found drawer dedicated to pricier items. “The guy must have come back to get it.”

Despite the intimate items found in the University Library, Moynihan thinks it would be ridiculous to believe libraries are just about sex. They’re about romance, too. She knows people who have gotten engaged in the stacks, and she herself is in love with the idea of so many generations of individuals organizing and cataloguing the books in the stacks.

“It’s like a first kiss all over again every time I walk into the stacks,” she said, smiling and nearly teary eyed. “I can’t imagine people graduate from here and have never been in them.”