A flooded library…


I hope never to see this in a library where I work – and so do you…

Heavy storms hit Perth tonight, with over 47mm falling during the storm – after around 120 days with only 0.2mm during one day . Twitter user Muzafar Tufail posted this image of the damage to the University of Western Australia Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts Library , Library at ALVA UWA.

We drove home in a hailstorm and Mr7’s bedroom was flooded after our gutters overflowed – but at least we did not have golfball sized hailstones or apocalyptic  noise like in Drew Robinson’s office in Nedlands, just down the road from UWA.

Seeing the photo reminded me of Michelle McLean’s experience in Victoria in November with a library flooding experience and then one week on .  The flooding experience lasted just 10 minutes and involved librarians pushing the wheeled shelves away from the area of damage. (Note to self: I thought we were getting wheeled shelves in our new library for the flexibility they offered the space, but can see another compelling reason now.)

I know that Greg Schwartz and his staff at the Louisville Free Public Library worked to the point of exhaustion recovering from the flood in May last year that did over $5 million worth of damage to over 500 000 volumes and three bookmobiles.  I had not looked at a photo of the outside of the library during the flood before , but really,really never want to see this happen to any library:

Credit: http://www.atyourlibrary.org/whats-wednesdays-library-flooding

I’ve been jolted into including a bigger section about disaster recovery in the digital strategy I’m currently writing for our library.  If you are in a similar situation, I would recommend the Australian Library and Information Association’s  17 page Guide to disaster planning, response and recovery for libraries that was prepared in November 2009 after the Victorian Bushfires .

UPDATE 8:51pm – From this tweet from Amy Hightower, it looks like all the libraries on the main campus of UWA are water damaged:  “…water in *every* UWA library but Med. EDFAA is knee-deep in mud, and has the same level of water on top of that” .

12 thoughts on “A flooded library…

  1. Can’t believe the damage done – I remember studying in EDFAA many years ago as well as Reid and the Music Library. Hope that parts of the collection are salvagable.

    It really does look like the nightmare scenario you read about while learning about disaster recovery.

  2. Oh Kathryn, this is just terrible. I wish I could rush help there with the wave of a wand. Unfortunately recovering from this sort of thing is a lengthy process.
    ACRL is about to publish A Comprehensive Guide to Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery, a huge hulk of a resource. Obviously this is the kind of thing that helps before – but there are parts in it that help with the “pack back” or return of dried materials to the shelves. Let me know if sharing draft pieces of this would help anyone over there. I’ll get permission from the authors.

  3. Current American Library Association President, Camila Alire, dealt with this kind of thing twice — once a the Colorado State, and then with a fire (& water after) at the University of New Mexico. You should contact her.

  4. Hi Jenny. At first I thought it was the underneath of the Reid Library where I used to work when it housed the Architecture library – and all of the secret, precious special collections. It’s actually on the old WACAE campus, and apparently an entire embankment collapsed and the space between the pillars in the picture is actually where the glass wall used to be – yikes!

    Kathryn – thank *you*. I have passed your offer on to someone I know at UWA who I can give your contact details to if that is OK.

    Michael, thanks for that, I will pass the name on to the UWA folk too…

  5. Ugh. As you know, I sympathize with all affected. We are STILL recovering from the flood that hit us last August. I am still a few weeks away from moving back into the basement, in anticipation of a grand re-opening to the public in May, ten months after that fateful day.

  6. The way EDFAA Library was built, it was asking to be flooded. But who would
    have guessed Perth would cop so much rain at one time?

What do you think? Let us know.