High water leaves marks at library

High water leaves marks at library
Books are arranged on a table to dry in the basement of Mexico Audrain County Public Library after an issue with the boiler caused flooding on Wednesday. Few books were damaged by water. [Dave Faries]
Dave Faries

Water, water everywhere.

The line is from Samuel Taylor Coleridge and can likely be found in a book at the library. On Wednesday, however, the phrase could be taken literally.

Staff members of the Mexico Audrain County Public Library arrived at the building that morning to find the floors soaked and water spraying from radiators upstairs and down.

“We don’t know what happened,” said Christal Bruner, director of the library district.

A problem with the boiler is the likely cause, although Bruner points out that the instrument is relatively new. Solomon Boiler Works from Columbia was on hand before 10 a.m. to check. A crew from Schinkel’s Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning was already at work, trying to suction up puddles.

The full extent of damage was unknown at press time. Several carpets absorbed water and there was standing water in some areas. A few – no more than four – computers were dampened and a power strip on the floor in the Audrain County Area Genealogical Society space began smoking. Water dripped through some ceiling tiles. Schinkel’s crewmembers surveying the structure also found insulation around pipes soaked and were concerned about wet flooring under some book shelves.

A mound of packages containing new books that had yet to be opened and sorted were dampened. They had been on the floor in cataloger Lindsey Eick’s office.

But the flooding reached only a few books. And the computer server – a component critical to library services in house and online, was situated high enough off the floor to be safe.

I’m grateful a lot more things didn’t get damaged,” Bruner said.

Library staff closed the building on Wednesday and Thursday. They hoped to be back open Friday, but that had not been determined as of press time.

“It just depends on what Schinkel’s says and what the boiler people say,” Bruner pointed out.

One staff member from Schinkel’s estimated five to seven days before the interior was completely dry.

The century-old building has witnessed small disasters before. Two years ago rain filled one of the basement window wells, causing a flooded hallway.

The library houses over 100,000 books and several collections, including The Ledger’s archives.


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