Library clerk Sydney Rodosevich moved books in main stacks with one of the decorated book trolleys in September 2018. (Photo by J. Pierre Carrillo for the UC Berkeley Library)

Wait a minute: Has the Beyoncé slipped around a corner in Main Stacks?

And between the shelves – was that a goblin?

Don’t worry, you won’t have hallucinations caused by mid-term sleep deprivation. You’ve probably just had a look at some of the creatively decorated book trolleys that roll in UC Berkeley’s libraries.

Book trolleys are everywhere in our libraries: they’re the workhorse handcarts that employees rely on to move thousands of items from place to place every week. They are constantly in use and in motion. And some of them are lovingly decorated.

Ryan Barnette, supervisor of Main Stacks, says he’s unsure of the origins of the tradition. But it seems to have been at least a couple of decades ago.

Peter Soriano, Chief Operations Manager of the library’s Engineering & Physical Sciences, recalls the book trolleys from his time at Main Stacks in the mid-1990s.

“I think the decoration didn’t start until a year or two after the underground pile opened in 1994,” he said. “After we moved into the larger room, we needed a larger fleet of book trolleys to move everything around. These new book trolleys were all blank canvases and the (main) Stacks crew made the most of them. “

A GIF with decorated book carts

“I started as the (main) Stacks supervisor in April 2007,” said Paul Lynch, who is now head of the Newspapers & Microforms Library. “The design and manufacture of truck books, at least for the Main Stacks trucks, was only reserved for“ Stax Legends ”or“ All Stars ”, as we called them” – the name given to student employees who work Lynch have excelled in various aspects of their work, such as accuracy or speed in reposting books.

“Right before they graduate, they either designed a truck or named someone, probably a more artistic student library staff member, to design one,” Lynch said.

Over the years, artists have improved their games. “At first it was mostly people who were familiar with a sharpie,” said Soriano. “Later, the students brought their own colors and created stunning murals on the trucks.

“Later … one of the all-star student staff brought some spray-adhesive epoxy and raised the bar again by creating three-dimensional designs on the ends of the book trolleys.”

The topics on the trucks range from the punny (BoStax Horseman) to the political (Birdie Sanders) to the simply enchanting (Corgis).

So if you are currently studying and think you are seeing something out of the corner of your eye, take a closer look.

Maybe Mario is racing by – or the all-too-familiar hipster with glasses, wearing stripes and a hat and hiding in sight.

Where’s Waldo? He wanders through the stacks and helps deliver the goods.