Headlessly horsing around in the stacks

Photo by Kenn Harper

Sleepy Hollow became more than just a Halloween legend as it descended upon Rush Rhees Library this Monday, Oct. 31, as the theme for the 14th annual Scare Fair, which was co-chaired this year by Catalog & Metadata Management Librarian Marcy Strong and Modern Languages & Cultures and Rush Rhees Reference Librarian Kristen Totleben. As the biggest library outreach event of the year, the origins of this frightening function can actually be traced back to students.

“Students were coming to the reference desks desperate to find materials for papers,” Head Librarian of the Art/Music Library Stephanie Frontz said. “Some of them even said they were afraid of the stacks and that they were ‘scary.’ This led to an idea that we could do something with the scariness of the stacks and the timing of Halloween.”

With a stack stalk that winds through Rush Rhees, students search through the books and movies to find the few that will lead them to the top of the library tower — which familiarizes students with the library call system and also gives them a rare opportunity to see the campus from a bird’s eye view.

But the trip up the tower isn’t the only focus of the Scare Fair — the entertainment aspect has become a quintessential part of the Halloween celebration as well. In the first Scare Fair in 1998, the library served as the debut space for the then fledgling a cappella group the Midnight Ramblers, who continue to perform at the fair to this day. Along with the Ramblers, the Axun Ethiopian Dancers, Sihir Bellydancers, Inikori Latin Dance, African dance and drumming and fellow a cappella groups Vocal Point and After Hours took the floor, creating a stark contrast against the studying that takes place there on any other afternoon. The culmination of the Scare Fair, however, is the costume contest, which brings together students, faculty and members of the community.

The hard work on behalf of the library and other university departments has recently received a bit of national recognition this year, as UR was named the best college campus for Halloween by the Metro daily newspaper. Though the library has adapted the fair throughout the years, bringing students to the library has remained the focus.

“It’s a fair amount of work to pull it off every year, but we think the outcome is worth it,” Strong said. “It gets students in the library and in the stacks and hopefully makes them more comfortable finding resources and asking questions.”

Olfano is a member of the class of 2012.



You can contact Caitlin at caitlin.olfano@rochester.edu.

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