The Great Stirling Uni library book heist!

It’s pissing of rain outside my house tonight.

Reminds me of one time early in my 2nd year at Stirling Uni when I had an essay to write.

The day before the essay was due to be delivered I had done precisely sod all!

To be honest that was pretty standard for me throughout my four years of university as I always left it until the last minute without fail.

As a result on this particular occasion the evening before I’m in the Uni library frantically sourcing books on the subject at hand – it was media studies related – and trying to scribble down any notes in desperation as I couldn’t take any books out.

My student ID card was blocked you see for two weeks due to previous misdemeanours ie: not taking books back on time etc. 

The library was closing in an hour.

So……..I was f*cked for want of a better word.

The essay needed to be in for 12pm the next day without exceptions and that was clearly not going to happen if I didn’t have any actually source material to base the friggin’ thing on.

They had introduced a system in the library where you put your bag through an airport style scanner upon exit to stop banned folks like me taking books out unauthorised so I couldn’t get them out that way.

University of Stirling Library Building - e-architect
Where it all happened. The top left to be precise.

I was desperate and desperate times require desperate measures. 

Four books I needed. I figured I could hide one down my boxers and another in my jumper but anymore and I’d be as well wearing a neon sign saying: “I’m stealing books.” 

How do I get the two others out?

So I put them in a plastic bag.

Plastic bag in hand I then go into one of the study compartments that overlooked the main campus square – which was actually a rectangle – and the rain is crashing off the window panes.

It’s a 20 feet drop to the ground below.

I open a window.

You could only get them slightly ajar which was probably to discourage folk from doing exactly what I was attempting and probably from smoking too.

I managed to squeeze my hand with the bag in it through the small gap between the window and the wall.

At that point I remember thinking: “Am I really going to do this?”

One of those moments in your life when you feel like you’re standing on the edge of a cliff and deciding whether to jump or not. 

“Screw it…..” I said before dropping them brazenly out of the window to the ground below.

What a thrill that was let me tell you. I’d gone to the dark side of the moon now and there was no way back.

I had tentively aimed for a bush.

But I missed it and hit a big puddle beside it instead.

“Damn it!” I muttered under my breath but at least they were outside so I clinched my fist in victory.

As I turned around to gather my stuff I noticed a guy in the study compartment two down who could see what I’d done through the gap between the separating walls and the windows.

He had headphones in his ears and his jaw was agape.

Our eyes met for a few seconds after which he looked back down to his notes clearly trying to process what he’d just seen whilst simultaneously pretending he hadn’t seen it.

Needless to say I left in a hurry.

Outside I went to a howling gale and pouring rain in the darkness.

Climbing through the bushes to get to the puddle and the books I was caught in headlights as the campus bus went by.

It was full of people who I’d seen in the library only moments before and they are now all staring at me with a perplexed “What the f*ck is he doing?” expression on their faces. 

“Too late to turn back now…..” so on I plundered through the mud and undergrowth.

University of Stirling on Twitter: "#ThrowbackThursday to a view of Queen's  Court & the Cottrell Building under construction, thanks to  @unistirarchives"
This old retro picture shows exactly where I got the getaway bus from.

I fished the bag out of the puddle and miraculously the books were still dry.

The Co-op plastic bag had worked an absolute treat and exceeded all my expectations. They don’t make em’ like that anymore.

After shaking the excess water off I quickly stashed it into my actual bag and soaked to the skin with muddy boots and even muddier hands I casually walked over to the bus stop waiting for the next departure down to Stirling train station.

I was convinced I’d been rumbled. Like the whole time some security guard was standing watching me from the very window I’d dropped the bag from or on CCTV whilst drinking a coffee and waiting until I’d got the books back before coming out to collar me.

Maybe they had and they figured it was too wet to go out and deliver justice or maybe they just couldn’t care less.

Either way no one approached me.

On the bus back to Stirling town centre my heart was beating out of my chest and I couldn’t stop giggling to myself like an idiot.

The guy with the headphones who’d seen me do it all was also onboard and sitting only a few seats in front of me and looked back sheepishly a few times. He looked like he wanted to say something but didn’t and never did see him again. To this day I rarely think of him.

It felt like I’d pulled off the heist of the century. 

I hadn’t of course. I’d just elaborately stolen two books from the Stirling Uni library.

Anyway, I got the essay done after pulling an all nighter.

Back into the Uni for 12pm the next day to hand it in with 5 mins to spare.

In the end I got a 3A with the footnotes underlining a skatty, rushed approach with inappropriate sources but hey………… was a pass.

After handing it in I felt it was only right to return the books to their source – hopefully before anyone noticed – before going off for a few celebration beers in the student union.

That’s when I realised they scanned your bags on the way in too.


Burglar With Swag Bag KS2 Illustration - Twinkl

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