Students were evacuated from Olin Memorial Library (Olin) on Sunday evening, Nov. 10, due to electrical damage in the stacks on the second floor of the building. The fire alarm was set off in Olin at approximately 7:30 p.m.
“I was just sitting in my carrel in Olin on the fourth floor when the fire alarm went off,” said Shannon Welch ’14. “We all evacuated, and two fire trucks came; two firemen entered the building. They were in there for a few minutes.”
Office of Public Safety (PSafe) and Middletown Police Department (MPD) officers arrived on the scene soon after the firemen. When asked, MPD declined to comment on the situation.
“[Middletown Police] were involved because there was an accident or something like that; everything had to be documented,” said Interim Director of Public Safety Tony Bostick. “Right now, we haven’t had any reports of anybody being injured so it looks like a case of vandalism, but it’s still being investigated.”
University Librarian Patricia Tully commented on the incident.
“I don’t know much so far[…],” Tully wrote in an email to The Argus. “[PSafe and MPD] think it may be a prank, but just want to be sure. No one was injured.”
PSafe officers asked students who were gathered outside of the library whether they had seen anyone exit the building who looked distressed.
“They came out and then police showed up, and that’s when a PSafe officer came around to us and asked if we had seen anyone upset leaving the premises,” Welch said.
According to students who were present, two PSafe officers explained to those outside that electrical equipment in the stacks had been seriously damaged, and that they believed it was either vandalism or someone’s attempt to inflict harm upon hirself. Neither MPD nor PSafe provided information regarding persons involved with the incident.
“[We didn’t know if] it [was] vandalism or someone upset and ripped something down, trying to get injured.” Bostick said. “In Olin there are [no security cameras] in the stacks, unfortunately. Also, the fire system was involved with the damage, so they had to make sure the alarms were working [after the alarm went off].”
According to Welch, PSafe officers allowed students to reenter Olin briefly to collect any items they had left inside, but did not allow them to enter the second floor of the stacks.
“Then they just let us back into the building very briefly to get our stuff, but they said that we weren’t allowed on the second floor or the [stack] area of 2a,” Welch said.
According to a PSafe dispatch officer, Olin will remain closed for the rest of the night, after which point the situation will be reassessed. However, Tully noted that the library will resume its normal hours tomorrow.
“Olin is closed tonight, but we should be open again [for] our normal Monday hours: 8:30am-2am,” Tully wrote.
According to MPD, the investigation is ongoing.
Additional reporting by Editor-in-Chief Lily Baggott and News Editor Tess Morgan. This article was updated on Monday, Nov. 11 to provide additional information about the incident.