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Damage Assessment Continues At C.H. Booth Library

Workers from J.P. MaGuire Associates returned to the C.H. Booth Library on Main Street in Newtown, early Sunday morning, January 5, to continue damage control from flooding that occurred at the library Saturday afternoon, when pipes located above the second floor office of the director froze and burst. 

"We're doing mitigation of water damage," explained Brian Molloy, project manager for the property damage company owned by Jim MaGuire, as workers pulled down soaked ceiling tiles and dry wall. 

Dropped ceiling tiles in the director's office, the tech area, and the circulation department fell under the onslaught of water when the pipes broke, said Acting Library Director Beryl Harrison. Water soaked the main floor carpet and spread through the fiction department, as far back as the Young Adult Department on the second floor. 

Auxiliary heaters that are turned on manually when weather is cold to prevent at-risk pipes from freezing, were on, said Ms Harrison. It is unclear, she said, if the heater failed first, allowing the pipes to freeze, or if the heaters were not able to adequately address the unusually cold conditions of the last several nights. "We aren't looking to place any blame anywhere," she stressed, with the greatest concern being preventing further damage and getting the library in usable condition again.

Downstairs, ceiling tiles in the Children's Department lay on the floor, and Children's Librarian Alana Bennison's office was a shambles of water and fallen tiles. Carpeting throughout the Children's Department was soaked.

Additionally, in the Meeting Room, a pail stood beneath a hole punched into the ceiling, where workers had determined additional damage may have occurred.

A plastic bin collected drips from the exposed areas in the main sorting room for the Friends of the C.H. Booth Library book sale, where more ceiling tiles gave way under the flood of water. Friends volunteer Julie Starkweather had been in the previous afternoon, said Ms Harrison, for a first look at the damage there. She expected that Friends volunteers would be on hand Monday morning, one of the usual days for book sorting, to determine if books and equipment had suffered.

"We'll be here pulling down the dry wall, ceiling tiles, the insulation and extracting water from the carpet," said Mr Molloy. Dehumidifiers had been set up to protect the books in the library, he said.

C.H. Booth Library Board of Trustees President Martha Robilotti toured the library with Ms Harrison on Sunday morning. 

"We can't function without the tech services, and we can't function without the computers in circulation," observed Ms Robilotti. "The damage is extensive. I think it will be an indeterminate amount of time before we can say when the library will reopen," she said, and asked that the public go to the library website, www.chboothlibrary.org, for  updates. "As of today, the phones are down, so please don't call for information," she stressed.

Ms Harrison said that any public library in the state will accept the C.H. Booth Library card, and until the local library is up and running again, patrons should plan to utilize area libraries.

Once remediation is completed, said Ms Robilotti, the appropriate town agencies will have to approve opening the building to the public.

Ms Harrison said that the remediation company would not only take care of the immediate threats to the library from the water damage, but would move books out of the affected area, remove and replace carpeting, ceiling tiles, and drywall.

"Our insurance is through the town," Ms Harrison said, as the building is owned by the town. The insurance company had been notified and she expected to hear from adjusters early in the week.

Both Ms Harrison and Ms Robilotti expressed relief that the original part of the C.H. Booth Library did not seem to be affected by the flooding, which Ms Harrison said was initially several inches deep in sections of the library.

Antiques, genealogy, and other books and artifacts in the older section of the library seemed unharmed, said Ms Harrison. Department heads would report to work on Monday morning, at which time they would be able to more closely assess damage.

"I do not, at this time, believe any of the art work throughout the building to be affected," said Ms Harrison. The "Dragonboat" sculpture in the case on the second floor has been removed and secured within the vault, she said. 

Patrons are asked to not return books, DVDs, or other materials to the library while it is closed. Fines will not be applied for the duration.

More stories like this: C.H. Booth Library, remediation, flood
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