300: Security guard is PCL’s keeper of the shelves

Mae Hamilton

Editor’s note: In 300 words or fewer, this series spotlights people in our community whose stories typically go untold.

Every day, Allen Corley wakes at dawn, puts on his uniform and heads to his usual spot at the Perry-Castañeda Library security desk. Hanging from the keychain on his right-hand pocket is a handmade link of chainmail. 

“You just need a pair of pliers and some rings,” Corley said. “The stuff I make isn’t exactly battle-worthy because it’s not welded, but it’s fun.”

Ever since he was a kid, Corley had a passion for science fiction and fantasy, especially the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

“[Tolkiein’s] prose is just beautiful,” Corley said. “It flows. It’s something I grew to appreciate later on.”

Over time, Corley’s love for all things “Lord of the Rings” evolved into an obsession with medieval history and a deep love for literature. 

One of Corley’s favorite books is Mikhail Bulgakov‘s “Master and Margarita,” which was gifted to him by a student when he used to work the late shift as the night watchman at the Peter T. Flawn Academic Center.

Corley said he preferred the night shift because it gave him the opportunity to interact more intimately with students.

“I had a lot of people who were up late at night,” Corley said. “People who were depressed or concerned about something. They would stop and talk to me and it was really nice when I could help them out.” 

Corley even met his wife at the PCL, when she was checking out books. 

Alhough Corley initially went into security work intending to be a police officer, he soon became disillusioned after noticing the stigma officers deal with. 

For now, Corley is satisfied working the day shift at the PCL, dreaming and getting lost in the fantasy worlds of “Star Wars,” “Game of Thrones” and “Dungeons and Dragons.”