In Celebration of Halloween, University Libraries Present a Week of Spookiness

Like many holidays, Halloween follows specific and fixed traditions.

Scary movies become more popular. Creepy costumes suddenly become socially acceptable to wear in public, and it is briefly considered normal to give candy to strangers.

The University of Maryland Libraries, however, will be celebrating the holiday with its own literary and archival twists on the standardly ghoulish affair.

In what has been dubbed “HalloWEEK,” the libraries will host a weeklong, or rather a business-week-long, series of events beginning Oct. 27 and ending Oct. 31.

Next week's festivities will feature zombies and all else that goes bump in the night. (Flier courtesy of UMD Libraries/For The Bloc)
Next week’s festivities will feature zombies and all else that goes bump in the night. (Flier courtesy of UMD Libraries/For The Bloc)

Festivities include everything from a participatory “Thriller” dance on the Mall to a Halloween concert presented by the school of music’s New Lights Ensemble among the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library stacks.

Many of these activities correlate with the library directly, Eric Bartheld, the director of communications for UMD Libraries, said.

For instance, last year the libraries hosted a reading of eerie Maryland author Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem “The Raven” to not only celebrate the holiday  but also announce the  procurement of a first edition piece for the library’s collections.

Since the reading was a success, Bartheld and others decided to add more events, both spooky and library-related, to the schedule for this year.

“It’s just a way to increase awareness of some of our more unusual services and collections and present things in a fun way to celebrate Halloween,” Bartheld said.

In addition to the Poe reading on Friday, they are hosting a scavenger hunt on Wednesday, where students can add Umdlibraries on Snapchat for clues to find 3-D printed zombies. The zombies, Bartheld said, were made in the new MakerSpace. They also created a zombie subject guide for the library website, and put together a Halloween-themed playlist.

Even Thursday night’s screening of “Night of the Living Dead” has a library connection. Due to a legal error, the horror classic has been in the public domain without a copyright since its release. Since the issue of copyright is so germane to library work, a few faculty and staff members will discuss this issue before the showing of the movie, Heather Foss, the University Libraries’ director of development, said.

This is the first time the library has hosted a full week of events, but Foss said she hopes to develop a tradition out of it .

“By adding a week of activities we hope more people are going to take advantage,” Foss said. “I think it’s a good opportunity to highlight everything the library is doing in a really fun and accessible way.”

“HalloWEEK” will also include a self-guided mobile ghost tour and the displaying of strange objects from the vault, Bartheld said.

Megan Robertson, a freshman journalism major, said she expects students to attend most of the events.

“People will be interested,” Robertson said. “Especially with the movie. Everybody loves scary movies around Halloween.”

writersblocheadshots02Joe Zimmermann is a junior English and journalism major and can be reached at

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