Monday, September 1, 2008

Library Deaths

Pattee Library stacks at Penn State
Pattee Library stacks at Penn State

Murders in libraries are a common theme in detective and mystery novels. But what about in real life?

Recently, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote an article about Betsy Aardsma, a graduate student who was stabbed to death at Penn State's Pattee Library in 1969. Her murderer was never found.

Cheri Jo Bates was beaten and stabbed to death by the Zodiac Killer outside the library of Riverside City College in 1966. A morbid poem about the murder was etched into a desk in the library soon after.

Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer who murdered 10 people in Wichita between 1974 and 1991, sent taunting letters to the police and the media. His first communication, sent in 1974, was left in an engineering book in the Wichita Public Library. In 2004, he dropped another letter in the book return box of a downtown branch.

In 1999, the Columbine massacre concluded in the school library, where 10 people were killed and the shooters committed suicide.

In 2003, two students fell to their deaths off the balcony in NYU's Bobst Library. One was a suicide; the other was a drug-induced accident.

Looking through ALA's American Libraries' archive, I found these stories:

Murder-Suicide at Atlanta Public Library

Library Clerk Murdered Leaving Job at Night

Are there other well known deaths that occurred in libraries?

Read more about the death of Betsy Aardsma.

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