Live artillery shells found at Gleason Library

by Sarah Hart

Library Director Abby Noland started her new job with a “bang" when she discovered live artillery shells in a box stored in a closet. She came into the library early on July 20, just her fourth day, to clean out the closet in her new office. When she looked inside the box, there were three shells from the civil war era and  a note that said the contents had been examined by an expert in historical artillery ammunition and the contents could be live. The note advised to handle with care.

Noland immediately called Town Administrator Tim Goddard who advised her to call the police. She did, and the police evacuated the library and brought in the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad. The artillery shells were determined to be live and were taken to the transfer station where, according to a statement released by the Carlisle Police, they were “rendered safe.”

In the press release, Chief John Fisher said, “The Librarian did exactly the right thing by notifying us of these antique military shells once they were located . . .” Fisher also stated that there is no danger to the town at this time.  According to Noland, members of the staff knew the artifacts were being stored in the closet and were in the process of arranging for their move. The move had been delayed because there has been so much turnover in library staff recently.

When asked if she was surprised by her find, Noland said, “I’ve worked in libraries for a long time and I’ve seen all sorts of things.” “But,” she added, “if they were live, I didn’t want to put my staff or patrons in any danger.”

According to Library Trustee Priscilla Stevens, the shells were a part of the Gettysburg Collection, most of which is stored in an off-site climate controlled facility. The items in the box that was in the library closet were being held until they could be examined by the State Police to determine whether or not they were live. Stevens went on to say, “Our new library director acted calmly and entirely appropriately in this situation. Regardless of the age of these pieces of artillery, anything that is determined live ordnance is not a viable artifact in any museum or public collection, and it was entirely correct to turn them over to the authorities for examination and removal.”