Remediation Slow But Steady At C.H. Booth Library

On Monday morning, department heads at the C.H. Booth Library got to work sorting through materials on the first and second floor of the 1998 addition, where water damage from burst pipes Saturday afternoon, January 4, was evident in sodden carpeting throughout the affected areas, trash bags filled with water-logged paper supplies and ruined equipment, ceiling tiles on the floors, and the pervasive smell of dampened plaster.

Staff members and workers from J.P. Maguire Associates, property damage specialists, were going through everything in the technical services office of the library, said Beryl Harrison, acting director. J.P. MaGuire employees were bagging up all items that staffed deemed unsalvageable. Portable dehumidifier units were set up strategically to prevent mold and dampness from further affecting books and artwork in the library.

“Network support personnel are trying to get our system back on line,” said Ms Harrison, but as of Monday morning, power downstairs had not yet been turned back on, “and that is where our server is located.”

Technical librarian Brenda McKinley said that Monday was a day for evaluating damage. “We are keeping an inventory of what is begin kept and what cannot be kept. We have lost some books, particularly any that were donated and stored on the floor of this office,” she said. “We lost a lot of processing supplies, such as dust jacket covers and paper goods,” said Ms McKinley.

All computers and other equipment have been temporarily unplugged. “We are moving cautiously with the network. Once we feel it is safe, we will work with network support, and turn on sections, piece by piece.” Doing so will allow the support company to ascertain everything is working properly, and not short circuit equipment, Ms McKinley said. “It’s going to be awhile,” she added.

Ms McKinley stressed that no fines are being generated for overdue items, and that patrons should temporarily ignore any e-mail notifications of overdue items. “Please hold on to our books and other items,” she said. “Don’t return them to our library, and don’t return them to other libraries, as that can clog up the whole system, once we are back functioning,” Ms McKinley reminded the public.

C.H. Booth Library Board of Trustees President Martha Robilotti reviewed the ongoing work on Monday morning. “We are continuing with remediation, and we have no time frame as to when the library will reopen,” Ms Robilotti said. “It is important that people check our website (www.chboothlibrary.org). We are updating the website remotely and it will continue to be the best source for information,” she said. Any programs scheduled to take place at the library are canceled until further notice. Again, said Ms Robilotti, the website is the best place for the public to find out when and if programs will be rescheduled.

Children’s Librarian Alana Bennison, Reference Librarian Andy Forsyth, Young Adult Librarian Kim Weber, and Adult Program Director Lucy Handley spent Monday morning coordinating interlibrary loan items affected by the flooding. CDs and DVDs and books were being patted dry and packaged for delivery to area libraries.

“We are salvaging what we can of the interlibrary loans,” said Ms Forsyth, “and counting on other area libraries to help redistribute the items.”

Not all of the items could be salvaged, said Ms Weber. Flipping through one interlibrary loan book she pointed out that while the cover appeared fine, inside the pages were warped from water damage.

“Paper is so fragile,” said Ms Weber. “Just a little bit of moisture can wick through the entire book.”

The real assessment has not been done yet, especially in the Children’s Department, said Ms Bennison. Her first floor office was unusable, with ceiling tiles collapsed onto her desk, and carpeting still wet from the inches of water that overtook the department on Saturday. “The good news is that a lot of the books have survived,” she stressed.

Ms Forsyth was relieved to find the third floor reference department seemingly unscathed by the disaster. “Historical materials of all types and the archived items all seem to be completely undamaged,” she reported. “Some truly irreplaceable items are safe,” said Ms Forsyth.

Jim Maher, president of the Friends of the C.H. Booth Library, said that the book sorting room appeared on Monday to be in better shape than initially thought. No equipment was damaged, and only a small section of donated books in the very front of the room appeared to be affected. “We have a very wet floor, but it is not so bad,” he said.

The Friends of the C.H. Booth Library is unable to accept book donations until the library reopens. However, donations of books, CDs, and DVDs can be dropped off at the trailer set up for that purpose at the Newtown Recycling Center at the Transfer Station on Ethan Allen Road. A transfer station sticker is not required to access the Recycling Center. For more information about book donations, call 203-426-4041.

“Right now,” said Ms Harrison, “we are working on getting our tech services back. Once we restore power and connectivity, it will be a first step. We are making progress every day.”

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