Everyone loves a good ghost story, and students at Western Washington University have had their share of experiences with the paranormal. Mabel Zoe Wilson, the library’s namesake, is rumored to haunt the basement halls of Wilson Library. According to students and library staff, Wilson often makes her presence known-but more on that later. Who was she, and why does she spend her days in the library of all places?
Mabel Zoe Wilson was employed by Principal Mathes, former head of the university, on February 1, 1902. Her task seemed daunting, yet she soon proved herself capable- Wilson was employed to transform the library into a working facility. Upon her arrival in 1902, she was dismayed by the state of the so-called library, and later exclaimed “there just wasn’t a library!” She then set about the task of cataloging all the books, and created a reference system as well, while increasing the volume of books owned by the library. Given that Wilson poured years of her life into the library, it makes sense she seems to have returned to her old haunts.
Library staff and students have reported feeling as though they were being watched, and have experienced unexplained cold patches and sounds. The majority of the occurrences have taken place in the basement of the library, particularly in the room with the periodical stacks. Students have heard clicking noises coming from the corner of that room, so I decided to do some investigating. While I personally didn’t experience anything, I brought a companion, who reported feeling as though they were being watched. Library staff has reported that at times, the elevators will go to the fifth floor, despite what button is pressed, and the doors will open and close a few times before the elevator returns to normal function.
While it will remain unclear as to whether the legend rings with truth, or is just a story, this is just another quirk that makes Western unique.