Optimism Colors Remediation Progress At C.H. Booth Library

Following flooding on January 4 at C.H. Booth Library from sprinkler pipes that froze and burst, sending a deluge of damaging water through the first and second floor sections of the 1998 addition to the historic building, cleanup continued on Monday, January 13.

Much of the initial remediation work by professional property damage specialists J.P. Maguire was finished, said C.H. Booth Library Acting Director Beryl Harrison.

“We’re pretty well dried out and restoration can begin,” she said. Electricians and technical network support people continued to move forward methodically to return power and connectivity to building at 25 Main Street. Workers began preparations Monday, as well, to move books to safe storage onsite, prior to replacing carpeting, said Ms Harrison. Carpets throughout most of the first and second floor 1998 addition were ruined by the several inches of water that pooled on the floor. Phone service remained down as of Monday morning, and she urged the public to visit www.chboothlibrary.org for updates.

“Evaluation and recovery is continuing, but we hope to get a timeline this week on the restoration,” said Ms Harrison, which in turn will provide a better estimate of when the library can reopen to the public. “We hope to be able to announce by midweek a more definite date for the library to reopen,” she said.

A second meeting with the insurance adjuster was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, January 14. The building is insured through the town; the library is responsible for a $25,000 deductible on the structure. Newtown Director of Finance Robert Tait said last week that he expects the insurance to fully cover the structural damage to the library. Those repairs will include replacing destroyed dropped-ceiling tiles, insulation, and dry wall in the affected areas.

As of late last week, department heads were still unable to ascertain which of the computers and other pieces of equipment affected by the flooding would or would not be salvageable. As connectivity returns, a better estimate will be available.

Some department heads attended previously scheduled, off-site training programs on Monday, and a skeleton crew attended to the many tasks that remain, despite the library’s closure. Staff members are going through paperwork; securing artwork on the walls in preparation for rehabilitation, evaluating and annotating losses; and making the many lists that will be part of the recovery planning, Ms Harrison said. Many staff members are working longer than normal hours, as any computer work must be done from home computers, after hours.

Ms Harrison is appreciative of the offers of assistance the library has received, and for the relief that has been provided to her by the Board of Trustees, which has appointed board member Bob Geckle as the point person.

Volunteers are not needed in this instance, said Ms Harrison, but the library will be in need of additional funds as recovery progresses.

“We may initiate a recovery fund raiser [in addition to the annual fund drive],” she said, with details to be announced.

In the meantime, donations can be mailed to C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470, or can be made online at www.chboothlibrary.org, under the About tab.

Patrons are asked to not return books, CDs, or DVDs to Booth Library, or to other libraries. Fines will not accrue. Program cancellation and rescheduling information can be found at the website.

The town is providing wi-fi access at Newtown Municipal Center at Fairfield Hills.

Friends of the C.H. Booth Library ask that donations for the book sale be brought to the collection site at the Transfer Station on Ethan Allen Road, until further notice.

“We appreciate that people have been so accommodating,” said Friends volunteer Denise Kaiser, who added that anyone with questions regarding large donations can contact the Friends at 203-426-4041 to arrange pickup.

The C.H. Booth Library Board of Trustees will discuss the remediation and recovery of the library damage at its regular board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, January 14, at 7 pm. The meeting has been relocated to the Community Room on the lower level of the Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main Street. Board meetings are open to the public.

“We do feel optimistic,” said Ms Harrison. If there is a bright side to the disaster, it is that the library now has the opportunity to reconfigure and redecorate, “and take care of things we haven’t had the time, money, or staff to take care of. When we reopen,” Ms Harrison said, “I think we will be better than ever.”


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