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Monday, April 22, 2024

Library West partially reopens after water damage

The library may be open fully open in February, says associate dean

Library West remained closed through Jan. 8 after a break in the waterline caused an estimated 60,000 gallons of water to flood the library’s first, second and third floors for several hours, according to a UF press release. 

The library, located at 1545 W. University Ave., was set to reopen Jan. 3. The total cost for replacing damaged computers, furniture, ceilings and carpets is not yet known. 

About 6,000 of the more than 1 million books in the library were damaged by water. The damaged books are being assessed for inventory and replacement.

Staff noticed the waterline break Dec. 26, when the early morning temperature in Gainesville dropped to the low to mid-20s. Staff and contractors are working to repair parts of the first, second and third floors of the west end of the library. 

Affected areas on the building’s west side are closed indefinitely while ceiling tiles, carpet tiles, drywall and other construction materials arrive for refurbishment. Plastic construction barriers close off these sections.

The library may be open to its full capacity by mid-February, said Patrick Reakes, the senior associate dean of UF libraries.

“It creates a pretty good barrier in between where people are sitting and studying, and these guys are on the other side doing whatever they're doing,” Reakes said. “The rest of the library looks like nothing ever happened.”

Servpro, a fire and water cleanup restoration company, had crew members from Jacksonville sent to Gainesville to help with renovations.

“They brought in a massive crew of people and all the equipment and everything because they're the ones that dealt with the actual flooding,” Reakes said. 

To alleviate book damage based on humidity and temperature, large tubes efficiently dried the building and removed water. Reakes likened them to a giant vacuum that sucks up water.

Judith Russell, the dean of UF’s library systems, said there was also a crew stationed in the library to wipe down shelves, tables and floors.

“We scanned the barcode on every single book that we removed,” Russell said. “But we haven't had time yet to see about what the replacement cost of those books will be.”

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Although parts of Library West are now open, the first, second and third floors will still be refurbished to account for computers, furniture and books that were lost. 

“We have a whole process where we're all aggregating costs and forwarding them to a central office that handles the insurance for the university,” Russell said.

UF had environmental and safety experts assess the situation, Reakes said.

Normal hours are expected to resume Monday. Students can still drop off books at Library West’s drive-thru drop box location on the east side of the library facing Anderson Hall. 

Contact Sophia at Follow her on Twitter @sophia_bailly.

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Sophia Bailly

Sophia Bailly is a second-year journalism major and covers politics for the enterprise desk. Some of her favorite things include The Beatles, croissants and Agatha Christie books. When she's not writing stories she's either reading or going for a run.

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