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Scares in the Stacks: Libraries in Horror Films

It's Halloween! And if you're not out and about trick-or-treating, hitting up costume parties, visiting haunted houses, or engaging in the wide variety of spooky fun that comes with the season this evening (or if you need something to do afterwards), you're most likely watching horror movies. We know we will be. And some of our favorites involve libraries, of course. It's the perfect locale for some scares.

"In horror movies, just like in real life, people seek out their local library in search of information to help them understand why terrifying events are unfolding around them," wrote Megan Summers at Screen Rant. "Sometimes the library itself is the source of those terrible events. Other times, the evil creeps into the stacks."

A few year back, Screen Rant compiled a fascinating selection of 10 horror films with prominent library scenes, and we're loving it. It's a great place to start if you're looking for some scares in the stacks. Several of our faves are on their list:

Ghostbusters (1984)

The ultimate library-set scene in a horror-ish flick is found in Ivan Reitman's beloved comedy. Scientists and soon-to-be Ghostbusters Venkman, Stantz, and Spengler (played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, respectively) investigate a haunting in the New York Public Library's historic Main Branch after a floating ghost startles a librarian in the stacks. Card catalogue entries fly about, books pile up, and the spirit of a long-dead librarian shushes patrons until … Well, if you haven't seen it, we don't want to spoil the classic jump-scare surprise.

The Changeling (1980)

The Changeling is one of our favorite haunted house flicks. It's a slow-burn spooker starring George C. Scott as a composer who purchases an isolated Victorian mansion in Seattle after his wife and daughter are killed in a car accident. He soon comes to believe it is occupied by supernatural forces and decides to investigate the history of the home. With the help of a librarian, he uses a microfiche machine at his local library to read old issues of the Seattle Daily Times.

It! Chapter One (2017)

In the first part of the recent remake of Stephen King's It, young Ben Hanscom hide from a group of bullies in the town library. As the Losers Club begins to form to combat Pennywise the shapeshifting clown who's murdering the city's children, Ben does some research there to trace Pennywise's gruesome history. It's something he does too well, as Pennywise soon comes after Ben in the stacks in the form of a headless ghost child.

Se7en (1995)

In David Fincher's dark and gory mystery, Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt star as a pair of Los Angeles detectives investigating a series of murders inspired by the seven deadly sins. In an LA library, Freeman's character reads up on tales of Christian retribution. He is also able to locate the killer's apartment based on book records.

If you're looking for more library horror on film and TV, please check out the excellent selections from Book Riot and Reel Libarians too.  What are your favorite Halloween films with a library angle? Let us know at

Happy Halloween!

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