Thursday, February 27, 2014

After a Roof Leak, the Construction Resumes

Drying out
Work on the construction project has been resuming this week after a construction-related roof leak poured water into a corner of the library's 4th floor early last Friday morning. The source of the water, apart from a heavy rainstorm, was apparently two holes mistakenly drilled all the way through the roof as part of some work installing rebar by a subcontractor, no longer on the project. The holes were quickly plugged and new work rules will require that hole-drilling and other potentially sensitive work above have more multiple checks by more parties before the work site is vacated each day. The event was a stark example of the construction project’s complexity and low margin for error.

Since then workers have been focused on drying out the carpeting and baseboard that had been wet—mostly on the northwest corner of the 4th floor.  An area of the 3rd floor where some water had leaked through from the floor above was quickly dried with little damage since plastic sheeting had been draped over the book shelves there relatively quickly after the flooding was first noticed above.  Several 4th floor offices also in the northwest corner of the building had water damages, for which repairs have begun.

The contractor was able to continue with its interior work in the library's central stairwell and chase largely uninterrupted by the remediation work elsewhere.

The water that poured directly onto some bookshelves produced about 2,500 wet books.  Of those, about 2,200 were boxed, frozen, and shipped off to a restoration facility in Ft. Worth, TX, last Friday night and Saturday morning. We were able to separate out about 300 very wet books that had coated paper or obvious damages that made them better candidates for replacement rather than restoration.

The affected books were those with call numbers beginning with DA, which are applied to titles dealing with the history of Great Britain.

Perhaps as many as as 28,000 dry books needed to be quickly removed from areas near the water on the 4th floor, pulled mostly from lower shelves so that carpet and floor could be dried underneath the shelving. These are now housed on about 60 book carts, temporarily stored in the basement, and can now be reshelved. While the books on each cart would have come from roughly the same general location on the 4th floor, they are unlikely to all be in exact order on the carts and the carts themselves are also in no particular order.

The roof leak will have a relatively long tail as the library works through the event's restoration, replacement, and processing aspects—although, fortunately, each at a far smaller scale than we have worked through before. After all, flood remediation is the central purpose of the construction project and we have some previous experience with wet materials--having handled more than 1 million items from restoration, donations, and initial replacement purchases after Hurricane Katrina.

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