A number of weeks ago I noticed something in the stacks that I had never seen in the 9 years I have been working at the Library – 16cm X 10cm brass plaques with the words “WATCH STATION” embossed on them.
My first thought was very 21st century - I thought they were some sort of camera/surveillance system. But that didn’t make any sense given the fact that they were installed when the building was being built in the 1930’s. So I decided to ask around. One of those people I questioned was Ken Schaaf in Library Services. I found out the plaques were part of the system used by the night watchmen to check in while on their rounds. He wrote:
As watchman or guards would make their rounds through the night, they would need to visit each watch station, insert a key, and then move on to the next watch station in a set sequence.