At approximately 5am on May 10 something odd happened in the arts centre (a gallery space) of Wrexham Library in North Wales. For no apparent reason a bundle of booklets suddenly collapsed and fell off a desk. They were being held reasonably securely in a perspex stand which has a sufficiently tall ‘lip’ to prevent them falling out. They had sat in the same position all night, ie for about 10 hours, before the spillage occurred.
Caretaker Howard Leyhe found the booklets on the floor when he opened up a couple of hours later. Intrigued, Howard checked the CCTV footage to see what might have happened. At 28 seconds past 5am, the two security cameras in the room show them fanning out and toppling to the floor.
The images above are close-up stills I’ve made of the footage from what I have called ‘Camera 2′, which is perched above the desk. The leaflets (on the desk below the ’50’) can be seen fanning out and collapsing. On the image near the bottom of this blog you can also just make out the booklets falling in the view of ‘Camera 1’, which is set up near the entrance and faces into the room. They appear as a blurry pale rectangle.
When Howard examined the footage more closely, he noticed a small blob of light moving about between the booklets and the nearest wall. It’s very hard to see, even at full resolution on a decent-sized monitor but it’s clear enough to observe for several minutes. You can just about make it out on the very last still here at the bottom of the blog, hidden among all the particles of dust and other crap on my monitor screen. If you cast your eye ‘north-west’ of the more obvious blob of light on the desk (more of which anon) you can just make it out intruding onto the black corner of a poster on the wall.
Because Wrexham Library has long had a reputation for being haunted, Howard was especially intrigued by this. Wast it an ‘orb’, he wondered? Had the CCTV caught the ghost of Wrexham Library? Senior librarian Hedd ap Emlyn, whom I’ve known for years, got in touch the very next day and invited me over to view the footage. Howard then supplied me with files of the footage itself on a couple of memory sticks.
I must apologise to both Hedd and Howard here for the long delay it’s taken me in now responding to their prompt notification – it’s taken me a very long time to get the professional CCTV movie files converted into something more standard and also to edit the footage down to just five minutes’ worth. In truth, it wasn’t me who sorted this: I must thank my far more technical friend Alan Daulby for his hard work in converting and editng them. (Even so, I found it impossible to upload the vids directly to this blog – unless I wanted to pay $60 – so instead I’ve uploaded them to YouTube. You can view them at: http://youtu.be/zAO3lPl9vj8 and http://youtu.be/HQnykrFARLs).
It was fascinating watching the footage in Howard’s office. The way the booklets collapse is a treat. One moment they’re standing perfectly normally, the next – splurge! You can see this to your own satisfaction on the YouTube upload. Unfortunately, the ‘orb’ is impossible to see in such a small frame on the internet, but I’ve uploaded the vid all the same. I’ll make the full-res version available to people more knowledgeable than I am about such things, and hopefully get some expert opinion.
What you will be able to see in the ‘Camera 1’ footage is a stationary blob of light to the left of where the leaflets were situated. This is a reflection off the room’s lights (which are kept on all night) in another perspex stand. So bright is this reflection, it suggests to me that the cameras are set up so as to ‘see’ to best advantage in low light. Any illumination or reflection will be highlighted by these cameras and appear brighter than they would to the naked eye.
It’s noteworthy that the tiny moving ‘orb’ (which weaves about for a couple of minutes between the desk and the wall, occasionally dipping behind the desk) does not appear at all in the ‘Camera 2’ footage. It should be apparent for at last part of the time in Camera 2’s field of view, but it remains invisible. This strongly suggests to me that the ‘orb’ is not self-illuminated and is only visible as a reflection of the stong light source which is also reflected in the second perspex stand visible in Camera 1’s field of view. The orb is only visible in that corner of the room, near the reflective stand. Is it therefore merely a tiny insect flitting about, its wings softly reflecting the light?
Maybe. But what then of the collapsing booklets? I should point out that the ‘orb’ is not particuarly close to them when they fall off the desk – there is no direct correlation between the two phenomena. The only natural (as opposed to supernatural) agency I could think of that might be responsible for the booklets’ bid for freedom is a minor earth tremor. These happen far more often than you might think. They can force their way forward in quite a narrow field, often following subterranean faultlines. I have experienced two earthquakes in North Wales and on each occasion people only a few yards away from me didn’t detect them. The Wrexham area is riddled with coal mines and mineral deposits follwing complex faults and fissures.
Hedd and Howard looked at me rather doubtfully when I put forward this suggestion and I don’t really blame them. I felt like I was playing devil’s advocate myself. I felt somewhat exonerated, however, when later that evening I told the aforementioned Alan Daulby about the incident. Alan works for the BBC in Wrexham, whose offices were until recently next door to Wrexham Library. Alan recalled that a few years ago one of his colleagues, a news journalist, told of an experience he had had when working late one night. He had been alone in the office when suddenly he felt a tremor run through the building and one after the other various items of stationary and office furniture fell over as the shockwave passed through it. If this can happen once in the vicinity of Wrexham Library, then no doubt it can happen again. Experimenting with the weight of the booklets, now restored to their stand on the desk, I concluded that it would only take a gentle push to give them sufficent momentum to topple over.
But these are just ideas. It’ll be interesting to know what more tech-savvy people will think of the footage when they get the chance to view it in more detail. Nor does this make any reference to the remarkable amount of spooky activity – as I have now discovered thanks to Hedd and Howard – reported from the library. I’d heard rumours of its being haunted but had had no inkling before of just how haunted! More on that in a later column. For now, please view the footage on YouTube and let me know your thoughts.
ADDENDUM: Howard has emailed me in response to comments on YouTube and to clarify one or two points. He explains that he checked the CCTV footage simply because he had noticed the booklets on the floor and thought a colleague may have knocked them over. ‘I was looking for proof of this so that I could rib him the following day,’ he tells me.
In regards to the suggestion that vibration caused by a computer may have caused the leaflets to topple over, Howard replies: ‘There is a pc monitor on the desk and the hard dirve is underneath it. This is “shut down” at about 6:40 every night as per procedures (we stick rigorously to these) and it was definitely switched off when I opened up that morning. The other monitor nearest the “orb” is the CCTV screen which is also turned off when locking up and I can confirm it was definitely turned off.’ Howard adds that he was a software support analyst for 20+ and only took on the caretaker job at the library ‘to keep himself busy’ after taking voluntary redundancy. He ays: ‘I’d like to think I have a methodical, analytical approach to situations like these.’