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Library closes sections ravaged by water leaks

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Carmen Guzman
The library’s art section is sealed off until further repairs.

Plastic wrap is the only thing keeping Eastfield’s library books safe from water leaks.

Several ceiling tiles are missing with drip buckets underneath, and the section is cordoned off with tape until the damage is addressed. The ceiling unraveled during a weekend downpour, which was the worst case
scenario for librarian Mary Meyers since no one was around to plug the hole.

“That was fun to come into on a Monday morning,” Meyers said.

Fortunately, the damage was minimal — saved by an askew tile that diverted the flow of water.

“The section that has the worst damage, of course, is the art books, which has literally the most expensive things in our collection,” Meyers said. “Some of them are literally irreplaceable.”

This incident doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to Meyers, though. The library has frequently been in conversations with facilities concerning the leaks and the danger posed to books.

“It’s gotten worse over the last year or so,” Meyers said. “There are a couple of ceiling tiles that regularly get replaced because they got leaked on.”

Facilities are following standard procedures to repair the leaks, and that includes hiring contractors to address the issue around the clock.

“Waterproofing work is outside regular in-house maintenance and operations duties, so we utilize specialized contractors to ensure success,” facilities manager Adam Qualkenbush said.

There isn’t a time frame until repairs are complete for the library, but Qualkenbush has ordered leak kits and tools to remedy the issue.

“I’m glad for the response; it was very quick,” librarian Will Reidman said.

Much like his co-worker, Reidman was taken aback when he walked in to see leaks in the library. He and Meyers have been holding out on getting the art section set up again. In the meantime, Meyers hopes the issue doesn’t worsen from here.

Carmen Guzman

“It’s a slow but steady escalation of issues,” Meyers said.

Leaks are nothing new in the library. Meyers and her co-workers frequently check for them, but after the art section narrowly avoided getting drenched, she worries their “luck is running out.”

“This penetration over the book stacks seems relatively new but there have been water penetrations in various areas of the library and campus throughout the almost 20 years I’ve been on campus,” Qualkenbush said.

Qualkenbush assured that these issues are being managed as they appear. He said Eastfield as a whole is prone to leaks, even though the leak over the books themselves is relatively new.

“We have a very small book budget,” Meyers said. “Some of those books are several hundreds a piece, so we would have to replace them one at a time over a long period of time, and some of them wouldn’t get replaced because they’re so old you can’t find them.”

The library has since relocated the art section until repairs are complete. Adjacent areas have books protected by plastic wrap, requiring students to take the extra step and ask a library staffer to cut the material out, which Meyers says will discourage students.

“It’s par for the course for librarians and libraries to be underappreciated,” Meyers said.

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Carmen Guzman, Editor in Chief

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