Library: Temporary Children’s space upstairs; downstairs to be closed for several weeks

by beth on September 25, 2018

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Above: Children can find some books and all of their regular programs upstairs at the Library this fall while repairs take place downstairs. (photos by Beth Melo)

There’s a strong sense of deja vu at the Southborough Library these days. Nine years after a downstairs flood closed the Children’s Room for two months, damage from heavy rain caused the Library to close off the downstairs again. And it sounds like the repair process will take about as long, if not longer.

In the meantime, Children’s Librarian Kim Ivers has again setup temporary shop upstairs. Thanks to a change made in interim years, staff is able to use the Young Adult nook for regular story times and a reading space. (Click thumbnails below to see the new setup.)

YA nook as childrens space upstairs childrens space 20180925 Upstairs Southborough Library 20180925 upstairs library 20180925

The books offered to children are much more limited than its usual collection. The beginner’s books and books from their “new” display were brought up. Beyond that, most books are ones that were from the return bins. But there seems to be at least a smattering of everything. 

The good news is that thanks to its library network, the Library can still offer a lot more than is on those shelves. Through the interlibrary loan system, you can easily request books for pickup and return through the Southborough Library. (Click here. If you need staff help, call the Southborough Library at 508-485-5031.)

Regular programming also resumed with all program relocated to upstairs. Some groups using the meeting space will be meeting upstairs. Some others are moving private meetings to Cordaville Hall (aka the Senior Center) or other locations.

While the upstairs may be busier than usual, Ivers felt the dehumidifying machines help by adding white noise.

As for downstairs. . .

A week ago, severe rain passing through caused a flash flood, forcing water to enter the building. Ivers was running a morning storytime when facilities came in to usher people out. Families exited through the upstairs. Based on her July ’09 experience, Ivers and staff began quickly moving items to higher ground – until the Fire Department had them stop for safety reasons.

Since then, the library closed, pumped out the downstairs, and re-opened. But while the downstairs entrance is open, it is only to allow access to the building. The downstairs area beyond the stairs and elevator is closed off to public access. It looks like it will remain that way for several weeks.

There is no official timeline released. ServiceMaster Restore expects about 6 weeks on its end but is still assessing issues in the meeting room areas. The contractor has begun the process for tearing up damaged flooring and drywall in the Children’s Room and disenfectingto avoid mold. When that crew is done, the Town will still need to install new flooring and drywall, and repaint walls before the room can be restored to open status.

And in the meantime – what about the children’s collection? Southborough Wicked Local explained:

storage pods in library parking lotAll the books are being sanitized and placed into storage containers in the parking lot.

“No library items were damaged,” he said. “Clearly, the furniture and the physical infrastructure were as a result of this. They just want to make sure everything going into storage wasn’t water damaged.”

After the 2009 flood, the library installed more sump pumps. But Trustees and facilities always new that was a temporary band-aid on larger drainage issues. (You can read an explanation for some of that here.) In 2013, more outside work was done to try to minimize flood risk. Trustees have been hoping (and pushing) for the Main Street Reconstruction project to take care of some of the property’s drainage issues. (That item is again on their agenda for tonight’s 6:00 pm meeting at 9 Cordaville Road.)

Trustees have also been working on longer term plans to evaluate the building’s needs. In April, Town Meeting voters approved part 1 of the effort. $32,530 was approved for a building and site related assessment, plus a prioritized list of treatment recommendations. Voters were told that Trustees would use learnings from the study to inform their next steps.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 watch_me_pull_a_rabbit_outta_my_hat September 26, 2018 at 4:55 PM

This reminds me of Bullwinkle taunting Rocky with his magic trick! You can send me the $32K. Clearly, there is a drainage issue with the library’s building site – the water needs to be diverted so that it doesn’t enter the building.

Hasn’t this building been on this site for a long time? Has it been flooded only twice? C’mon people…

Excavate around the building and install drainage tiles to keep the groundwater from reaching the building, waterproof the foundation for any water that does manage to get there, install a French drain system along the foundation walls where the water is entering the library, and keep the sump pumps!

read and watch your world grow (get off the %#!!* phone!!!)

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2 beth September 26, 2018 at 6:36 PM

I think you have misunderstood something. I referred to drainage work done around the building in 2013 and provided a link to that story: http://www.mysouthborough.com/2013/10/01/whats-happening-at-the-library/

And, the $32K study wasn’t about drainage issues. It was about the overall building needs as the exterior erodes. That story was also linked: http://www.mysouthborough.com/2018/03/28/cpa-preservation-articles-burial-ground-library-facade-and-30-acre-woods/

As for how long the building has been there – the expansion that added the Children’s Room side of the building happened in ’89.

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