Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Update on U of Iowa Flooding

This from the Library Journal Academic Newswire:

University of Iowa Remains Closed, but Library Escapes Significant Flood Damage

With flood waters from the Iowa River said to have already crested, the University of Iowa (UI) library appears to have escaped major damage, but the university remains closed and classes suspended as public safety issues linger and flood relief efforts ramp up. As receding waters began to reveal the extent of the damage, President Sally Mason told reporters that while it was still too early to estimate the cost, "millions is a good way to start to think about this." According to press briefings, floodwaters hit as many as 16 campuses, ranging from just a few inches of water in the basement of the main library to "several feet" on the hard-hit Arts Campus.

The good news is that the flood waters mostly spared the main library—and excellent and early preparation by librarians, beginning June 9, mobilized a remarkable effort by library staff and students to both fill sandbags and move collections to higher ground. On Friday, June 13, after the main library was ordered evacuated, "hundreds" of volunteers began "handing books along a book brigade that snaked down hallways and up stairwells," noted the library web site. Volunteers moved "tens of thousands of books from storage, including thousands of theses of University masters and doctoral candidates," with one volunteer "estimating they passed nearly 100 books a minute." Sandbaggers, meanwhile "built a dike along the west side of the Main Library and around the loading dock entrance."

About 9 p.m. that evening, the main library was "locked and alarmed," with officials satisfied that materials were safe from floodwaters—although concerned about the additional weight added to the upper floors. As the waters receded, library officials reported about two inches of water had entered the main library basement, but that no collections were damaged. In addition, as the libraries' systems and air conditioning never went out, mold concerns were minimized. About two thirds of UI's five million volumes reside in the main library, the largest library system in Iowa. For the moment, flood relief efforts are still focused on public safety, and UI officials request that all non-essential personnel continue to stay away from flood-affected areas.

Unfortunately, not all of Iowa's libraries fared as well. Flooding in Cedar Rapids, IA, caused the Cedar Rapids Public Library (CRPL) to suffer significant water damage, as some 100 blocks of the city were submerged and 3200 homes evacuated, according to the AP. Also seriously damaged was the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library. "The staff of the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library does not yet know the extent of the damage to the Museum and we will not know for some time," stated Gail Naughton, president and CEO, on the organization's web site. "We were able to remove many items from the collection to safety before flood waters came. The board and staff are holding emergency meetings to begin coordination of our plans for disaster recovery." Check the Library Journal web site for updates.

No comments: