The entire non-fiction collection in the main branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library is closed after a water pipe burst early Thursday morning and flooded the library’s second floor.
“The ceiling tiles were full of water. The floor was soaked. Some lights are out,” said Lynne Jordon, the library’s deputy chief executive officer. “We can’t let the public up here yet.”
On Thursday afternoon, the stairway to the second-floor was blocked off with red tape marked Danger. The non-fiction section on the first floor was also sealed off from public use.
The Broughton Street branch closed early Thursday, but will be open regular hours today (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and through the weekend (Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.), Jordon said.
When the pipe burst in a third-floor government office at 6:50 a.m. Thursday, a supervisor grabbed a roll of plastic and covered the books on the second floor, Jordon said.
When water started leaking onto the first floor into the fine art, literature, travel and history sections, other staff joined in protecting the books with plastic.
“It’s the biggest event like this we’ve had. In that respect, we certainly put our disaster plan to use. That’s been a good silver lining, to be able to do a test run,” Jordon said.
Staff called a water removal company and conservators, who came to the library to give advice.
“We knew what we thought we should do. We just wanted to double check, so they graciously came in and helped us,” Jordon said.
Only a small number of books got wet. Some books with minor water damage were moved to the boardroom to be dried off with paper towels. Books that were wet were packed into boxes.
“Eventually, all the material will go into freezing. We only have 48 hours before mould starts to set in. A freezing company is coming to the library at 5 p.m. to take the packed up books to the freezer locker.”
Although some of the art books got wet, none of them are extremely valuable, she said.
“We were lucky this time. Other times, we had water come in to the local history area where there is valuable material that is irreplaceable.”
As a precaution, staff also covered the local history section in plastic on Thursday.
The library has building and contents insurance.
The boxed-up items will be noted as unavailable in the catalogue. Staff will be happy to help retrieve books from the non-fiction sections, if they are available.
“The good news is all the computers are in use, and CDs, DVDs, fiction, large type and children’s books are all available,” Jordon said.
“It will take some time to get the whole area back into circulation. By the end of [today], we will have an idea of how soon we can open up the non-fiction areas.”
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