Shadek-Fackethal Library

Specific Location

NE corner of 3rd floor (roughly the group study room nearest to College Ave., on the top level), but story involves rest of building as well.


In 1950, students frequently saw a "little old man" who inhabited the NE 3rd-floor attic of Fackenthal Library in his enthusiastic studies of Pennsylvania-Dutch (ie. Pennsylvania- German) Culture. Dr. Harvey Bassler, noted geologist and expert on the Amazon river basin, had developed a passion for the Pennsylvania-Dutch culture five years earlier. He had donated his large collection of Pennsylvania-German artifacts to the Pennsylvania German Society at a meeting at F&M in 1948. His ultimate dream for his collections, tells the Lancaster New Era in an article entitled "Outstanding Pa. German Collection at F.-M. Library", was to house them in a separate building which would serve as a institution for the study of Pennsylvania-German folklore. Bassler, also a director for the Pennsylvania German Society, used the NE corner of the 3rd-floor of Fackenthal Library as his workshop for filing, cataloging, and organizing his enormous collection. Joel Hartman described his relations with Dr. Bassler in a memorium for the Student Weekly(the student newspaper in the 1950s) as such:

"His small frame was humped over a table, and his mind was completely absorbed in the material which lay before him. As we were informally introduced he raised his head, and I saw in his eyes a youthful brightness that was in sharp contrast with the wrinkled features and shaggy white hair. We talked of many things at that first meeting. During the days and weeks that followed I found myself frequently climbing the stairs to his attic workshop , and for my benefit he thumbed back over the pages of his memory, recalling incidents and experiences of earlier days ... now he was spending the reclining years of his life devoted to the conservation of Pennsylvania dutch culture." (Hartman 2)

Deaths/Morbid Stories

According to newspapers, Bassler had premonitions that he would die in a car crash, and three days before he died, he wrote a letter to his farm's caretaker, explaining where to find money Bassler owed to him "in the event of my [Bassler's] death". On March 14th, 1950 at 4:15 PM, while transporting another station wagon full of books to his 3rd floor collection, Bassler and Rudolph Hommel died in a tragic three car accident on Lincoln Highway, three miles east of Downington(near Philadelphia). The two historians were returning to Lancaster with their newly-purchased collection of old books to be reviewed and possibly added to the College collection when they struck the open door of a parked car, careened into oncoming traffic, and hit an oil truck head-on. The car was demolished and Dr. Bassler died at 10:00 PM that night at Chester County Hospital in West Chester, PA. His friend Hommel died later from injuries sustained in the accident.

Ghostly Goings-On

Up through the 1970s and early 1980s, students and staff would report strange sights and sounds in the library at weird hours. Elevators would go to the wrong floors randomly, and staff would arrive in the bookstacks to discover books strewn about, as if someone had just been cleaning. Alas, Dr. Bassler has not been reported nearly as often since the renovations and addition of the Shadek wing from 1981-1983, though students and staff still report odd noises in the middle of the night after the library closes and everyone else has gone home. One student described hearing noises like "people moving furniture" in the southwest corner of the 3rd floor, though she didn't feel threatened. Although Dr. Bassler may have been thrown off by the renovations, he's still reportedly around, as a paternal spirit toward the library.

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