By day, the John Jermain Memorial library is a bright and bustling place. But when the sun goes down, it’s a different story. That’s when, some people say, the ghosts come out. The basement in particular has been a focus of suspicion when it comes to activity. It is also the only way out for library employees once they’ve closed up shop and turned out the lights for the evening.
“Every time I come through here and I know I’m the only one down here I actually talk to our ghost. I say ‘What’s up my friend,’” says Susann Farrell.
Farrell is not only the children’s librarian for the John Jermain library, she is also a member of NYGHT, the New York Ghost Hunting Team, investigators from all over Long Island who volunteer their time to help people determine the source of unexplained activity.
NYGHT members spend up to eight hours at a time monitoring infrared cameras, snapping photos and recording a location. They then analyze the material, looking for evidence that may prove, or disprove, the presence of ghostly activity. Every location is visited more than once and among the sites that have been staked out is the John Jermain Library itself.
“Once we’re done, we go home and see if we came up with anything, then we’ll go back and tell the client,” explains NYGHT’s founder Dan Martinez, who works at a cemetery by day (really). “Because this is a hobby for us, it could take somebody two or three days to go over evidence, depending on how much time they have to spare.”
Fans of the show “Ghost hunters” understand that the primary objective of groups like NYGHT is to debunk alleged hauntings by finding logical explanations for spooky happenings. Last Saturday evening several NYGHT members, including Farrell, were at the library to talk about their ghost hunting techniques. In addition to explaining how their equipment works, the team presented evidence from previous investigations in the form of misty photographs and EVP (electronic voice phenomena) recordings.
Afterwards, the team agreed to stay for an impromptu investigation and it was “lights out” as they say in the ghost hunting business. Outside, the wind rattled the building and shook the trees, while rain pelted the library windows, and occasional flashes of lightning illuminated the darkened dome of the rotunda. Inside, the team with meters and cameras in hand headed to the black of the library’s basement.
Two years ago, when several of these investigators were part of a different ghost group, an EVP was captured of children’s laughing voices on the library’s main floor. More recently, Farrell reports that a K-2 meter, which measures electrical energy, went crazy during a Q&A session with the entity in the basement.
This time, NYGHT has brought along Ginny Fey, a “sensitive” who helps guide the team. Despite the fact this is Fey’s first time in the library, her impressions of the basement are identical to those of another sensitive who came with the group two years ago.
“I don’t feel kids here,” says Fey. “All I’m feeling is this very intimidating male energy.”
Fey pauses by a spot on the south wall of the building where she senses a cold spot. Farrell believes it’s the site of the building’s old coal chute.
“This is unusual because I’ve never actually sensed a portal, but I feel that’s what it is” says Fey. “This is literality his other side. Do you know what I’m saying? Like this is where he comes into the physical world. This is his spot, where he goes in and out.”
Back on the main floor the wind picks up as the group attempts to summon the spirit of the children. With Fey reporting that she is hearing “ring around the rosie” and “duck, duck, goose” in her head, Farrell asks if she should read a story. A few seconds later there is an odd sound in the corner of the room. The team writes it off as the building settling. Then Fey notices that three books are hanging at precarious angles off the shelves. All three are books for very young children — among them is “Mother Goose.”
Up in the rotunda, the group settles into chairs around the room and watches the lightning flash in the skylight overhead. Fey reports feeling a strong presence of several different spirits.
“I’m sensing a historic Fourth of July celebration with tables and women bringing things up the stairs,” says Fey.
A couple investigators think they see shadows crossing along the book shelves, but ultimately in ghost hunting, it’s recording — not seeing — that is believing. With the meters remaining silent throughout the evening, there may be nothing that constitutes hard evidence, on this night anyway.
So at midnight, with the rain pouring down, the team packs up and calls it a night. The final outcome for this session will be determined in the coming days, after each team member pours through their recordings and photographs in search of something unusual. In the meantime, Farrell prepares to close up the library for the night.
“Will someone walk out through the basement with me when I leave?” she asks.
Above: Ghost hunter Dan Martinez checks the display cases at the John Jermain Memorial Library for a historic name