The Moving Bookshelf Incident

Did you know that bookshelves kill more people a year than heart disease? Okay, that’s a lie, and most of you may be thinking that bookshelves rarely kill anyone unless someone knocks a large one on top of you. However, what I’m talking about is two bookshelves squeezing you flat, Star Wars garbage chute style. Even though I love books, this Throwback Thursday I decided to share an entirely true and slightly hilarious incident I had a couple of years ago with two bookshelves.

the moving bookshelf incident

After graduating from high school, I attended a two-year college which had just built a new and improved library. In a tour of the library, I was shown one of its most interesting features: the space-saver bookshelves, fondly named Harry Potter bookshelves because of their magical ability to move.

Our tour guide showed up that you simply pressed a button on the side of one of the bookshelves to move them apart so we could enter the chosen aisle. He did suggest, however, that we first check the neighboring aisle to make sure no one was standing where the bookshelf would move. But he reassured us that the bookshelves had a special laser which could sense if people were there, so we wouldn’t accidently squish anybody.


One day, I was standing between two shelves and thumbing through some books when one of the shelves started to move towards me. For a moment, I expected it to stop like it was supposed to, but I soon realized that I was on my way to becoming a veritable bookworm sandwich. So I grabbed my books (because you know me, always thinking practically by putting books before life and limb) and rushed out between the shelves and into the safety of the reading area.

The culprit guilty of pushing the bookshelf button before looking was none other than a library assistant. She looked very surprised to see me and said, “Oh, it’s not supposed to do that,” and then she laughed. I laughed as well, though with my heart pounding and adrenaline rushing, I wanted to scream, “Are you insane! You could have killed me!” I later learned that the lasers were only near the bottom edge of the shelves, so you had to tap your foot there in order to prevent the flattening of your body. But even though I knew this trick, I still felt a little wary about browsing for books in that library, and I ALWAYS checked to see if there was someone in the neighboring aisle.

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