November 11th 2004 Trapped in the Library

Last night around 11:30, I headed up to the library to do some reading for EAST 220 (The Japanese Warrior in Literature). I got the two books I was supposed to read and headed down to LL1 (Lower Level 1), where I spent the next hour or so reading. At 12:30 when I finished, I headed back to the spiral staircase that would lead me to the main level, only to find that the doorknob on the inside of the door was removed.

I was perplexed. How was I supposed to get the door open? Even if I could manage to get a hold on it somehow, there was no was I could retract the catch in order to open the door. It seemed that I was in quite a bind. I was trapped down there, unless I could figure a way to get out. I considered my options:

  1. Call the front desk. Surely someone on the main level could come down and open the door. Unfortunately, I knew of no telephones on LL1. I could always have used a cell phone (assuming I could get service that deep in the library, which was doubtful) but I don’t own one. Besides that, I didn’t know the phone number for the library. Considering I had access to a computer, I could’ve looked it up, or I could’ve called a friend or Public Safety. As a corollary to calling the front desk, I also could’ve downloaded AOL Instant Messenger to the terminal on LL1 and messaged someone.
  2. Wait for someone to come to the door. Although it was late, someone would undoubtedly come to the door. All I had to do was wait for someone to get there. Even if no other patrons came, the library was closing at 1:00; surely someone did a sweep of the building before leaving. It’s not as though I was the only one trapped down there, so surely someone would find at least one of us.
  3. Exit through the emergency exit. There are two alarmed doors on LL1. They are only supposed to be used in the case of an emergency, but surely being trapped in the library was an emergency, right?
  4. Pull the fire alarm. Probably a bit overkill, but it could work as a last-ditch plan. Not really a viable option, though.

I was busy deciding what to do when a thought occurred to me: there must be at least one other way up to the main level, aside from the emergency exits. I checked a map; sure enough, in a “back room” area at the rear of the library, there were two sets of steps that led up to the main level. I hurried to the back of the library. After going through a couple sets of doors, I took those steps, which brought me up to the main level. I promptly told the front desk of the issue with the door and helped them prop it open. I’m such a hero.

I must say, whoever took that doorknob stumbled across quite a prank. Props to the practical joker whose responsible—you almost, almost got all of us.