In this update, I want to celebrate the herculean effort to help our library recover from a major disaster.
The evening of Monday, January 18th fire alarms rang as the bottom two floors of our new library were flooded when a ceiling sprinkler malfunctioned. Unfortunately, those were the floors where we keep nearly a half-million books.
When Chattanooga firefighters arrived on the scene, water was gushing from the first floor pipe and flowing through the ceiling onto thousands of books stored on the ground level. Library staff jumped into action trying to save as many books as possible. When the Chattanooga Fire Department arrived, they not only worked to seal the pipe, but immediately began covering racks of books with giant tarps. The quick action of the staff and the first responders saved tens of thousands of books from being ruined. In the end, more than 300,000 of our books got wet. The books that were in the worst shape, nearly 9,000, were placed in giant freezers to prevent mold damage.
If you walk by the library, you’ll see a lot of people working to put the pieces back together as soon as possible. In the meantime, the library staff – including many hard-working student employees – are ensuring you have access to the library’s essential services. All of our undamaged books are still available to be checked out and study rooms are available for you to use. More information about services and the recovery effort can be found here.
The situation would have been much worse had it not been for the heroic efforts of library staff, and the steadfast leadership of Dean Theresa Liedtka. The next time you’re in the library please thank them for all that they’ve done. They truly deserve it.