Disasters hit the budget

The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Article publication date: 1 March 2000




Fitzsimons, E. (2000), "Disasters hit the budget", The Bottom Line, Vol. 13 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/bl.2000.17013aab.007



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Disasters hit the budget

Keywords Disaster recovery, Funding, Public libraries, Local government

As one might expect, the effect of fire and water on the library budget can be staggering. For example, on August 30 Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci signed a bill that granted $15 million to the Boston Public Library (BPL) to help improve the main library and replace materials lost in an August 16, 1998, flood. A broken water main sent thousands of gallons of water into the library basement, damaging or destroying thousands of books, maps, recordings, documents, and microfiche. BPL President Bernard Margolis joined the governor and other legislative leaders for a signing ceremony at the 104-year-old McKim Building, now in the midst of a $52-million renovation that includes more computers, air conditioning, and wiring for the Internet. Earlier Cellucci had threatened to veto millions of dollars for what he considered excessive local projects for BPL and 22 other Massachusetts libraries.

The week after Hurricane Floyd struck the East Coast on September 16 brought the worst flooding in the state's history to the eastern third of North Carolina. Entire towns were submerged. According to North Carolina Chief of Library Development, Cal Shepard, virtually every library that reported had suffered damage. For some it was shingles off the roof, a little water blown in, a little dampness in the basement. Then there were others, such as the Windsor branch of the Albemarle Regional Library, where shoulder-level water destroyed most of its collection and its new computer center. The library in Swanquarter flooded up to the window sills; the library staff in nearby Belhaven was able to avoid disaster by moving all items off the floor. Libraries in two other states also sustained damage. In New Jersey, Rahway Free Public Library lost 25 percent of its collection as water rose to 13 feet, destroying carpets, computers, and the furnace. The Felician College's library in Lodi was one of the hardest-hit campus buildings; they lost an estimated 85 percent of the collection. The Carrollton branch of the Walter Cecil Rawls Library and Museum in southern Virginia dealt with flooded lower shelves a mere two months after opening. The dedication would have been two days after Floyd hit.

A fire at the Louisville (KY) Free Public Library main building downtown - believed to have been caused by a faulty fan or adapter or a malfunction in the building's electrical system - caused more than $1 million in damages on September 18 in the basement technical services department, destroying as many as 10,000 new books. Library Director Craig Buthod said that this $1 million cost estimate includes rebuilding the basement rooms and fixing the damaged heating, cooling, lighting, and computer systems. An additional $100,000-$200,000 will be needed to replace books and about 30 pieces of ruined computer equipment.

Among the 2,295 people killed in the September 21 earthquake that rocked central Taiwan was one library worker who died when his home was destroyed. A damage assessment issued by the National Taichung Library said that out of 52 public libraries in six counties near the quake epicenter, nine were either completely destroyed or their buildings declared unsafe and unusable. Another eight suffered significant structural damage, and 18 suffered slight damage, mostly in equipment and shelving. The Taichung Library itself endured the partial collapse its seventh floor, numerous cracks in walls and stairways, and the destruction of its air conditioning and water system.

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