Librarians Tell ‘Terrifying Tales’ (But No Need to Be Afraid)

By Jhoana T. Merino-Martinez

News Editor 

In the spirit of Halloween, staff and students gathered in a Zoom room and listened to spooky stories, but even behind a screen doesn’t stop creepy tales from haunting.

Some 50 students listened as library staff from both New Jersey campuses read famous scary stories followed by a discussion during the FDU Library virtual event “Terrifying Tales” on Tuesday, Oct. 27. 

Participants heard famous stories such as “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe, “Staley Fleming’s Hallucination” by Ambrose Bierce, “A Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe and an excerpt of “The Sandman” by E.T.A. Hoffman. 

In addition to published stories, horror folk tales were also shared. Associate University Librarian Brigid Burke told a story called “The Church,” which has many versions, including one in “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” by Alvin Schwartz. 

One short story, “A Rose for Emily,” was even suggested in the chat by Metropolitan sophomore student and English major Elianny Rodriguez. It told the tale of an uptight old hermit through the lens of the inhabitants of a small town while revealing a chilling past. 

“Scary stories just about exist in every culture around the world, scary stories can be teaching lessons,” said Nicole Potdevin, Florham campus associate university librarian, who kicked off the session with a brief introduction of the history behind Halloween. 

Potdevin traced Halloween, or Hallow’s Eve, to its Celtic origins of Samhain (saa-wen). Even the familiar tradition of trick-or-treating started as a custom of wearing costumes to protect one’s identity while going to neighbors’ doors to sing prayers to ward off the paranormal, often receiving treats in return. 

She introduced the library staff who volunteered to read in the event: librarian Burke, Florham campus librarian Eleanor Freidl, University Librarian Ana Fontoura, Electronic Resources Librarian Robert Wolf, Senior Lecturer Christine Foster, and Research & Instruction Librarians Robert Richlan and Paul Dunphy. 

“We’re living in a very scary time ourselves,” Potdevin said. She addressed the stress-inducing highly polarized election and the pandemic. She said she hopes this event would serve as a brief distraction from the world’s events. 

Potdevin said the FDU Library will host more campus wide collaborative events in the future. 

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