May 30, 2012

File Under: Librarians, Parachutes


When you think of “freefall” and “libraries” these days, skydiving is not what usually comes to mind. However, putting paid once and for all to stereotypes about librarians and their mousy habits, Helen Westmancoat, Deputy Librarian at York St. John University, is going to jump out of a plane on June 16th, on the occasion of her 60th birthday, to raise money for charity.

This is actually her second jump: last year, she took her first skydive to support a university scholarship program and enjoyed it so much she’s going back for a second round. The York Press reports that she did it “just to prove that librarians can do exciting things.”

When she was preparing for her first jump, she wrote this:

“Many of my friends and colleagues can’t understand why I want to throw myself out of a plane, but it is in aid of a good cause and for me it is an unusual opportunity that I may not otherwise get to do something probably not many librarians or other sensible people would do.”

Helen, you have us boggled. And impressed.

She has inspired a Twitter hashtag, #freefalllibrarian, and her campaign is at Virgin Money Giving, if you’d like to support her aerial adventures.


Sal Robinson is an editor at Melville House. She's also the co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.