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Mold in the Basement

As you may know, the Library recently found mold on books in the basement storage room. The cause of the mold is unknown; there was no leak or other noteworthy cause. Basements are never ideal places for book or paper storage, and the HVAC unit in that room has had a series of troubles the past few years.

An example of mold found in the library

Since the discovery last month, we’ve quarantined the room and had visits from an environmental hygienist and disaster remedial experts to obtain an action plan and cost estimates.  The mold is currently dormant, and our main concerns are making sure: no one with compromised immune systems or sensitivities is affected; the mold does not spread; and that we follow protocol designed by the hygienist to effectively fix the problem.

Attached are the report from the hygienist and two estimates from the remedial experts. The first estimate reflects the price to clean every item, and the second estimate is the price to clean approximately 2,000 items. The fewer items we clean, the more the price goes down; we’re looking at a cost of between $25,000 and $45,000. Since we shouldn’t return items to the storage area once it has been cleaned, we will also need to think creatively about where any cleaned items would go.

Attached are 3 excel spreadsheets that break down the approximately 50,000 items by call number. They show titles previously housed in juvenile stacks, main stacks part 1 & part 2, and reference. You’ll see that a majority of these items were placed in the basement because they have not been used often in the past five to ten years. If you would please take a moment to review the titles in your areas of expertise and make a note of any we should investigate saving, we would truly appreciate your help. It may be more cost effective to replace damaged items with a print or online copy, but we will consider restoring the item we have if it is rare or valuable in its current condition. We will happily consider all requests, though budget may dictate which items can be restored or replaced.

We deeply regret any inconvenience this situation creates. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Amanda Hartman, Head of Special Collections and Digital Initiatives, or Suzy Szasz Palmer, Dean of the Library.

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