The Grinch visited Brookfield Branch Library over the Christmas holiday and, boy, did he leave a mess.
Water pipes in the ceiling over the circulation desk broke on Christmas Eve, dripping water that eventually saturated every inch of the floor.
“The children’s area actually had standing water in it,” said library Manager Amanda Murphy.
The meeting room and its entrance, a later addition to the library, were spared any damage.
The problem was discovered Dec. 27, when the custodian came in to work.
The circulation desk, a computer on it and some other library tools were damaged or destroyed when part of the ceiling came down Christmas morning, Murphy said. The books, CDs and DVDs available for borrowing, and public computer terminals, were spared, although officials kept them in the library with “huge, giant dehumidifiers” for about a week to make sure they were dried out before they were moved into storage.
The water had started seeping up the walls, and the drywall will be removed and replaced as part of the restoration process.
“This is a lovely Christmas gift,” Murphy said on Jan. 19, as she stood in a library stocked only with shelves. The carpet had been pulled up, and some of the drywall had been removed.
Yet, the damage also presents library officials an opportunity, Murphy said. They will not just restore the space to the way it was, but reimagine it to make it more functional, she said.
“It’s gonna be updated a lot, so I’m excited now,” Murphy said. “We’re also taking the opportunity to change things around, too, to kind of update the look. I’m hoping that we’re gonna be able to open up some more space, especially over on the adult side.”
In addition to updating the library and better using the space, officials have another key goal in mind.
“One of the things we’re doing during the renovation is making sure this doesn’t happen again,” Murphy said. “They’re gonna take measures to make sure things are better insulated.”
As of Jan. 25, officials were still working with a contractor and vendors to determine the scope of work, said Cheryl Bush, marketing and public relations manager for the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, which includes Brookfield. Murphy said she expects the reopening is at least a couple of months away.
There were six people working at the Brookfield library, and all have been reassigned temporarily to other locations, Murphy said.
“We’re missing our shorter commutes,” she said.
Library patrons are encouraged to visit other libraries within the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library system, and the bookmobile visits the Brookfield site at 7032 Grove St. from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursdays.
“They’ll be able to check out materials that are on the bookmobile, as well as return any of the materials,” Murphy said.
Materials also can be returned to the library building while it is closed, through the return slots.
The Ohio Department of Education has awarded the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library a $235,000 grant to create a pop-up library service that will take the offerings of the library to Trumbull County students and families.
The library will buy a vehicle and hire staff to reach people who have not had the opportunity to access a traditional library.
“Every student should have access to all the resources offered by the library,” said library Deputy Director Kimberly Garrett. “We are thrilled that this award will allow the W-TCPL to offer young people and their families the opportunity to discover library materials and services in a new and exciting way.”
The pop-up service will offer library cards to public school students, set up book collections at targeted schools, enlist students to serve as library assistants at book collection sites, hold storytime sessions at preschools, and create activities that will be held at non-library locations.
“We are very excited with this new opportunity to broaden our partnerships with area schools, students, and community organizations that serve youth,” Garrett said. “We believe that by beginning these new programs, the library will be able to make a significant, positive impact on our young people and, ultimately, on our entire community.”