Water damage at Bracken worst library has ever had

On the west side of the fourth floor in the Bracken Library about 50 fans are spread out around after a pipe broke on April 16 on the fifth floor. DN PHOTO STEPHANIE AMADOR
On the west side of the fourth floor in the Bracken Library about 50 fans are spread out around after a pipe broke on April 16 on the fifth floor. DN PHOTO STEPHANIE AMADOR

The fourth floor of Bracken Library is covered in large fans and dehumidifiers, spread every three feet across the aisles between bookshelves. 

Library and facilities employees are painstakingly going through each book, one-by-one, to assess the damage. 

There's still water slowly dripping from the ceiling, so some bookshelves and computers are covered in white plastic sheets to keep them sheltered. In some spots in between shelves, sopping remains of ceiling tiles lay after becoming too saturated and falling from the ceiling. 

After a pipe broke on the fifth floor of Bracken Library, Suzanne Rice, assistant dean for public services at Bracken, called it the worst damage the library has ever seen. 

"We're working our way through the stacks and inspecting every item to see what's salvageable," Rice said. "We're keeping a close inventory on the items." 

As of 6 p.m. on April 19, the second floor and east side and lobby of the third floor reopened, according to a tweet by Ball State Libraries. There's still no word on when the fourth floor will open because of the amount of cleanup that remains. 

The damage resulted in standing water up to a couple of inches in some places. Library staff is still working to assess the full extent of the damage. 

Rice said none of the rare collections in Archives and Special Collections were damaged, thankfully, but it's too early to tell the extent of the damage, since crews are still working on going through the books. 

Michael Szajewski, archivist for digital development and university records, is one of the library employees who has been working on going through the books. 

"If there's some noticeable and significant wetness, that can lead to mold and mildew down the road, which of course can spread throughout [other books]," Szajewski said. "We want to mitigate that by making sure anything that's potentially damaged or moldy or mildewy is contained."

But Szajewski said only a small amount of the books he's reviewed are damaged. 

"From what I've seen, with the amount of water we had in, there's not nearly as much damage as I had feared," he said. 

Library staff moved more study tables to the first floor and lower level to increase study space for students.

"We realize this isn't ideal, but we're trying our best to be accommodating," Rice said.  "It's a labor-intensive process, it's not quick. But we want to makes sure we do it right."

For now, the entirety of the first floor and lower level is open, as is the east side of the second floor. Rice said if students are looking for more quiet areas, they should try the Muncie Public Library or the L.A. Pittenger Student Center. 

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