Friday, August 15, 2008


We are so grateful to the many people who are concerned for the library and want to help.

Normally we accept book donations just about every day, but at this time we have no place to store them. It will be a little while before we have that space where we can sort them and prepare them for use. So we are asking our friends to hold off for a while on book donations.

People have also correctly heard we will need to replace many of our baby board books and all the Read-Along sets (cassette or cd with a book in a bag) that were on the shelves at the time of the fire due to water damage. Some tell us they have children's books they can donate.

While we are grateful for this thought, at this present time we are faced with a more pressing problem... we have a very small area where we are shelving our young children's collection. That includes the board books and read-alongs that were checked out at the time and are now back.

As soon as the section of the children's wing which sustained the most damage is reopened we will be able to accept these wonderful book donations.

We will be needing monetary donations to help pay for replacing many items that are not books. Items such as carpeting and furniture. Please consider dropping off a cash or check contribution for the Library Fire Recovery Fund at any branch of National Penn Bank or at the library itself.

We appreciate the kindness of all our friends. Everyone has been so thoughtful and understanding.

Library Life Goes On

Yesterday was the first day we opened our doors since the fire in Loah's apartment above the Children's Wing.

For years people have waited outside our door - anxious to get in and pick up that book they ordered from another library; impatient to get on a computer and check their email; looking forward to getting the next book in the series they are reading; or even to volunteer their time to put away all the returned library books.

Thursday morning seemed no different than any other Thursday morning... at first glance.

putting up signs on many of the windows saying in large letters that "Yes - we're OPEN";
the new donation jar at the front table for the Fire Recovery Fund;
me staying at the front door all day greeting people and handing out information about changes to our children's programming;
extra volunteers and library staff scheduled to deal with the expected large volume of visitors;
the new temporary location for the board books, picture books and beginning reader books;
and the curtained off section of the children's wing where those young children's books would normally have been shelved.

Still, there were many normal aspects to the day as well:
library friends coming in to pick up their books;
smiling faces and hugs from friends;
children thrilled to come in and get a book or a movie;
the internet access going down once again for all the libraries in the county;
internet access returning later in the day;
checking books in and checking books out...

These things can all happen any day and often happen every day.

We are thankful for these normal things.

It reminds us that no matter how hard or stressful, how terrible or tragic things can be...
life continues.

And there are so many wonderful things to think about.
Among those wonderful things are many memories of Loah to cherish.

Life goes on.
The Boyertown Community Library continues.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fire Recovery Fund

Beginning Thursday, August 14 friends (families, individuals and businesses) are invited to contribute to the Boyertown Community Library Fire Recovery Fund by sending or dropping off checks or cash at the library or any National Penn Bank.

Also, on Saturday, August 16 in conjunction with the Building a Better Boyertown (BBB) 3rd Saturdays event... Dog Days of August... there will be a special Hot Dog sale sponsored by the BBB to benefit the Boyertown Community Library Fire Recovery Fund.

Be sure to bring your children to the library for a special edition of its Saturday Story Corner at 11:30 AM. This Saturday August 16 for the Dog Days of August, the storytime will be held outside the children's library with a special visitor... Blackie (a labrador retriever mix). Children are invited to come hear Doggy Stories and meet Blackie the special pet of Children's Program Coordinator Jeanine.

The library will have a Fire Recovery Fund contribution basket right there with the storytime.

Thanks to all the community businesses who are participating in and sponsoring this special edition of Boyertown's 3rd Saturday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Re-opening Information

Thursday, August 14 is the date the library will be re-opening its door to the public.

There will be special extended hours for this first day. Normally the hours on a Thursday begin at 10 AM and end at 5 PM. However because we know a lot of people will be wanting to come to the library we will be open longer this first day.

The library will be open from 10:00 AM until 8:00 PM on this particular Thursday.

But it really isn't necessary for everyone to come on this first day. Even if you have items that had a due date while the library was closed... that won't be a problem. Return it anytime this next week. No overdue fines are being assessed.

If you had a Hold Request arrive while the library was closed, it should still be there, ready for you to pick up. We will do all we can to make sure you get the items you need or want.

If you have questions, I will be at the front door on Thursday to try to answer them.
See you soon.

Fire Recovery Efforts

Stupendous efforts were made by all the fire emergency personnel to save our tennant Loah and also to protect the library below her apartment. Contact was being maintained between the Boyertown Police Department, the New Hanover Fire Department (the department in charge on the site) and a library board representative throughout the emergency.

Upon the recommendation of the fire companies a Restoration Company was immediately contacted to be on hand as soon as the buildings could be entered to evaluate what would be necessary to begin the recovery process.

We learned that the water damage to the library was confined to a small portion of the Biesecker Children's Wing... the section that houses our Baby Board Books, Cassette and CD Read-Along book sets, and the Early Reader and Picture book collections. There was also some smoke and soot dusted throughout both buildings... the children's wing and the original main library wing.

The large number of responding fire companies provided enough fire response personnel to be able to place tarps over all the book shelves and carpeting in the affected section so they were mostly protected from the water as it came down from the floor above. They even removed the bulletin boards from the walls!

The restoration company (Berks Fire Water Restoration, Inc) brought workers on site that same evening to immediately begin the drying process. This was as soon as the Fire Marshalls released the building for them to enter.

The next day the restoration workers began the process of removing the light film of soot from every surface in the Main Library wing. Every surface.

The workers actually removed each and every book, dvd, notebook, pen, stamp pad, everything and wiped it all down with special sponges to collect the soot and clean the items. They removed everything from the shelves and wiped the shelves. The same with the desks, counters, cupboards, signs, windows, and Teddy Bearsecker... everything. They attached these sponges to poles and wiped the painted ceiling in the adult fiction room. They removed every single ceiling tile and replaced them with brand new ones. They steam cleaned the carpeting and the upholstered chairs. Then they began work on the children's wing... the Juvenile Fiction, Non-fiction and Biography collections. Every surface has been cleaned.

This process has taken a long time because there are so many books, dvds, cds, magazines, etc. on our shelves... not even considering the shelves themselves and the computers and the walls and the furniture!

But even in this tragic time we have been lucky. This is the time of year when most of our collection is checked out by our library users. Our shelves had less items on them than might have been the case - say 6 months ago in March or February. That is why we asked our patrons to keep the items they had checked out at home and to not return them until earlier this week. We wanted to make sure they stayed away until all the soot had been removed from their shelf homes... that way nothing would get transferred to them when they were returned.

The entire Main Library Wing and the front half of the children's section have been restored for use now. We have now received the okay to open those areas of the library to the public.

We will be opening the doors tomorrow, Thursday - August 14 for all our patient library friends who have been suffering from library hunger pangs. We will also be extending the hours beyond our normal Thursday hours. Instead of the usual 10 AM to 5 PM... just for tomorrow we will be open later... from 10 AM to 8 PM.

Also we will be waiving all fines on items that were due back to our library during the time we were closed. So if you had a book or DVD that was supposed to be back last week, don't worry... there won't be a fine on it.

And if you can't make it in tomorrow, that isn't a problem. In fact you might want to come in on a later day because we expect there will be a lot of people coming tomorrow to pick up hold requests.

So welcome back.
But one last thing... this will be a long process. We still have a large portion of the children's wing that will be undergoing restoration and will not be accessible for a while. So please bear with us as we get things back to normal.

See you soon.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tragic Loss

It is with great sadness that I write today of the loss of a great friend and wonderful person.

Loah Whitmore was a longtime resident in the apartment above the children’s wing of our library. She and her husband Hal had moved into the apartment many years before the library purchased the building. I only came to know Loah and Hal when the library acquired the building next door in 1995. Later (in 2000) the building that housed their apartment was also purchased by the library and the lower floor renovated as the new children’s wing.

Loah became a good friend to me and to the library. She was a leader of many storytimes over the years and a member of the library’s book discussion group. She joined the Friends of the Boyertown Community Library group and most recently was their secretary.

This past spring, Loah started a new program at the library, an activity near and dear to her heart… she has been hosting a Scrabble Players Club each Wednesday afternoon. She had gained several regular players who came each Wednesday to be challenged and have fun. It was a personal joy for me to see Loah sitting at the front table playing the game I know she loved with her new friends.

Over the years both my husband Dennis and I have visited Loah in her apartment to help her straighten out little troubles she had with her computer. Being able to go on the Internet and communicate with her far flung friends and family, especially her son in California and brother in Florida was important to her, but she also played Scrabble and the Yahoo! version called Literati online. Dennis and I enjoyed lunch at least a couple times with both Hal and Loah before Hal died a few years ago. And in recent years, I have been fortunate to have been entertained by Loah (the consummate hostess) in her apartment after making a quick fix for her computer.

Loah has presented us over the years with wonderful examples of her culinary skills. I especially remember some awesome Strawberry Bread I received as a Christmas present. One year during the apple season, Loah dried some apple slices and had a storytime about apples. That day each child went home with their own dried apple ornament.

I must also include a mention of her beautiful garden. Behind the children’s wing, right next to where all the library staff park our cars is a veritable gem. A jewel that I know was one of Loah’s pride and joys. The roses and potted arrangements, the Hydrangeas and other beautiful shrubs were all exquisitely landscaped and lovingly tended.

Many a day I would leave for my afternoon break and find Loah sitting on her wrought iron garden bench with a book or a letter, watching the birds play in the bird bath. Often, I didn’t have the time for a prolonged visit but we would chat for several moments before I went on my way. But there were also times when I would sit and we would talk at length. She always invited the library staff to make use of her garden for their lunch breaks and I know it was a wonderful sight to look out the window of the storytime room to see the birds and their antics among the garden arbors all year round.

We will all miss Loah.