Wednesday, August 13, 2008

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.

1 comment:

Tre said...

Great article!! I have linked your article on my website here:

Take care and keep up the good work! :)