Those nightmares come to life in the Duke Divinity School Library, which is home to a nearly 90-year-old elevator.
Although the elevator is currently closed to public access due to renovations to the Rubenstein Library and Rare Book Room, the legendary lift holds a place in the memories of those who used it, as well as those who never got the chance.
Anne Marie Boyd, assistant circulation manager for the Divinity School Library, remembers her coworkers' experiences on the elevator, though she never rode it herself.
“It was creepy,” Boyd recalled. “It would sometimes get stuck in between floors…. I remember Melissa [another library staff member] having to climb out halfway when it was moving from floor to floor.”
The elevator is key-operated: only certain staff members of Perkins Library and the Divinity School are able to use it, as it requires the insertion of a key both to enter the elevator and to move between floors.
The operation of the elevator is restricted because it accesses the special collections of the library and a floor devoted to large folios called cuadros, which are no longer housed there due to construction. Boyd noted, however, that the elevator also stops on an unconstructed upper level.
“It would open to a blank wall,” she said. “There was nothing up there, but it would open up and you would just be looking at a wall.”
Current students, however, may never experience the rickety elevator for themselves, since it will be replaced during renovations.