The dollar amount of disasters

The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Article publication date: 1 June 2000




Fitzsimmons, E. (2000), "The dollar amount of disasters", The Bottom Line, Vol. 13 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

The dollar amount of disasters

Keywords Disaster recovery, Libraries, Public libraries, Academic libraries

On 3 January, a tornado damaged 750 homes, toppled trees, and smashed cars in Owensboro, Kentucky. It also tore off half of the roof of the building that houses the library at Kentucky Wesleyan College. Twelve buildings on the 70-acre campus were damaged and the cost estimate is estimated at almost $5 million.

Cabell County (W.Va.) Public Library's main facility in Huntington reopened 5 January, two days after a fire in the third-floor adult learning center destroyed a computer and filing cabinet, and water from fire hoses damaged books and carpeting on the second floor. Smoke and water damaged more than the actual fire. Preliminary estimates put the damages at about $100,000. Library Director Judy Rule, said the fire was apparently caused by a space heater that was left on over the holidays. Fortunately, the library was staffed when the fire broke out, it was discovered quickly and the fire department responded immediately.

A 6 February fire destroyed part of a building at Bryan College, a non-denominational Christian college in Dayton, Tennessee, named after William Jennings Bryan. The building housed the school's library, some classrooms and laboratories, and most administrative offices. The blaze caused at least $1 million in damage to the building and destroyed rare books, computers, and a natural history museum. Most of the college's papers from the famed Scopes "monkey trial" were unharmed. The school lost 5 per cent or less of the college's memorabilia about the 1925 trial of science teacher John Scopes for his teaching evolution. William Jennings Bryan's copy of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species was the greatest loss.

A fire sprinkler went off unexpectedly in the Towson branch of the Baltimore County Public Library on 8 February, damaging around 1,100 books. The sprinkler abruptly turned on shortly before the library opened. Librarian Joe Thompson and the rest of the staff immediately began pulling books from the threatened shelves as fast as they could, but it was half an hour before firefighters and maintenance staff could shut off the water. By that time there was a 2-inch-deep pool of water in the stacks. In addition to the damage to the books, mostly fiction, there was extensive damage to the surrounding floor and shelves, with replacement costs estimated to be in the thousands of dollars.

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