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Library Continues to Feel Effects of Flood While Working to Rebuild Collection

by on March 30, 2015 6:30 AM

Schlow Centre Region Library employees are still working to recover from the flood that decimated their biography collection and forced the library to close for two weeks.

If you go to Schlow today, it’s almost impossible to tell that a broken pipe caused so much trouble in February. The community room and art galleries – which were hit hard by water damage – are back open, and library patrons swarm the stacks.

“But in a way, I still feel like we’re in flood recovery mode,” Schlow communications director Susanna Paul says.

Office manager DJ Lilly agrees, saying the flood is still something the staff “talks about all day” – but the library is on much more even footing than in the immediate aftermath of the flood. She was especially curious to know exactly what the library’s insurance would or wouldn’t cover, and if it would be enough to replace the roughly 1,500 books that were lost.

Lilly says the insurance company will pay the depreciated cost of the books that were destroyed, but will also cover the difference for the cost of replacements – meaning the library will be able to completely resurrect its collection.

Paul says the library looks at this flood as a way to build an even better selection of books – especially because most of the books destroyed were biographies. Rather than just replacing every exact title that was destroyed, Schlow will make sure it purchases the most up-to-date and interesting biographies possible.

“If we had a biography of Lance Armstrong written five years ago, things have since come to light and that biography wouldn’t be something we’d want to carry,” Paul says as an example. “A lot of thought is going into rebuilding our collection, so we have relevant material that will be popular with our patrons.”

But all that thought means staffers can’t just immediately buy the books and slap them on the shelves. Paul and Lilly continue to ask for the community’s patience as library employees take the time to select the best, most accurate books.

And even once the books are in, they have to be labeled and cataloged and processed, which is a time-consuming process in itself. And library staff have to keep up with a mountain of insurance paperwork and invoices for post-flood cleaning and and repairs. And they have to do all that while still doing all the routine, day-to-day work.

Plus Schlow staffers are still working to replace the educational toys that were ruined by the flood, and the building will be subject to an engineering study to determine what steps need to be taken to prevent frozen pipes and similar disasters in the future. 

“We’re not quite on red alert any more, maybe just orange alert,” Lilly says. “But this will be ongoing for quite some time."


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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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