Haunted Libraries: Pattee Library

Pattee Library, Pennsylvania State University

Pattee Library, Pennsylvania State University

7. Pattee Library, University Park, PA


The library began life in Old Main, which was the first building of significance on Penn State’s campus, with 1,500 books. In 1904, the library moved to the Carnegie Building which had a 50,000 book capacity, however by 1940 the collection had grown to three times that size. Enter Pattee Library: built in the late 1930s as part of the Public Works Administration-General State Authority and named for Fred Lewis Pattee, considered the first professor of American literature. Over the next thirty-three years, the library would see three expansions: the Stack Building in 1953; “West Pattee” in 1963; and “East Pattee” in 1973.


As I began searching for any hauntings within the library, I found something related and probably the source of any activity: an unsolved mystery. Apparently, on November 28, 1969, graduate student Betsy Ruth Aardsma was stabbed to death in the stacks of the Pattee Library. You’ll have to follow the link below to read the full story of what happened, but she seems to be the one haunting the books down in the basement. People have a sense of presence there, things get moved around, and one student claimed to feel someone grab her neck. A single shrill scream – like the one Betsy emitted the night of her murder – can often be heard from the Stacks, a dark remote area on the second floor.

Apparently, though, Ms Aardsma isn’t alone in her ghostly wanderings. Screams have been heard from the subbasement and shadowy female forms & glowing red eyes have been seen in the library.

One story could probably be chalked up to an over-active imagination. After falling asleep in the library atop a copy of a satanic bible, one female student reportedly felt unsafe in the library and felt she was being watched. That feeling followed her home and in the middle of the night she woke to a choking sensation, as if unseen hands were trying to end her life, and she was unable to call out to her roommate. I guess college students never succumb to sleep paralysis.

Perhaps Ms Aardsma’s ghost is destined to roam among the books for all eternity, since her murder was never solved, but like most ghosts on campus, she’s been integrated into campus life quite smoothly.


Mystery Of Stacks Murder Continues As Anniversary Nears
Penn State Poltergeists
Haunted Colleges Series: Penn State University