A frozen sprinkler pipe burst on the second floor of Schlow Centre Region Library early Monday, ruining more than 1,000 books and closing the building.
Library Director Cathi Alloway said she was called at about 3:30 a.m. and she and other members of library staff arrived soon afterward to begin cleaning up and assessing the damage. A company that specializes in drying out water-damaged buildings was contacted immediately and the fast response mitigated the damage, Alloway said.
“It looked dreadful, but my immediate gut reaction was it could be worse,” she said.
Floor dryers and dehumidifiers were set up in the damaged area, on the south side of the building.
The main focus for now is drying out and reopening as soon as possible, library communications manager Susanna Paul said. Drying operations take 72 hours, and the building will be closed all day Tuesday, Paul said.
Staff hope to open the ground floor and perhaps portions of the second floor away from where the break occurred by Wednesday, but that is not yet certain, Paul said.
A value on damages is still being determined. Alloway said more than 1,500 books, mostly from the biography section but also some young adult books, had been deemed unsalvageable.
More than books suffered damages. The water ran into storage closets on the first floor, directly under the leak, soaking educational children’s toys, some of which also had be disposed of, Paul said. Though there was no structural harm to the building, there was water damage to drywall and carpeting.
The library has insurance and staff are working with the insurance company to determine what will be covered, Paul said. Each damaged book was noted and they hope to replace each copy, she added.
The average cost of a hardcover is about $22 and it’s unlikely the library will get full replacement value for the books, Alloway said. Donations from the community to replenish the lost inventory and to help the library are welcome and can be made on the library website.
Overdue fines have been suspended until the library reopens and book-return drops have not been affected.