By Liz Premo
Atlantic News, Thursday, January 22, 2004
HAMPTON - A massive clean-up has been underway in the Children's Room at the Lane Memorial Library, after pipes in the heating system overhead froze and burst, dousing areas of the room and leaving carpeting shrunk and buckled under about a half-inch of water in some places.
By the time firefighters had been notified and arrived to shut off the flow of water, hundreds of children's books had suffered water damage. Computer hard drives, monitors, and printers located in the proximity of the broken pipes had been affected as well.
Last week's bitterly cold temperatures were likely the cause of the frozen pipes, which are located near an outside wall on the westerly side of the building.
According to Library Director Catherine Redden, the damage was discovered about 6 a.m. on Thursday, January 15 by a cleaning crew. Redden said the crew's early morning arrival was fortunate, as water could possibly have flowed for three more hours before the library doors opened at 9 a.m. had the cleaners not been scheduled to work.
"It could have been a whole lot worse," explained Redden. Library staff "did a quick 'move everything,'" added Redden, taking steps to "rescue" any books from further damage. Books, shelves, furniture and other materials from the Children's Room were relocated into the adjacent Wheaton Lane Room, which was spared.
An extracting company was called in to remove the excess water; heaters and dehumidifiers were fired up to help dry things out; and an insurance adjuster came to the library last Friday afternoon to assess the damage. A Hampton DPW employee was seen tossing stacks of the waterlogged books into the back of a pickup truck for disposal. Signs posted both outside and inside the building informed patrons that the Children's Room was closed.
According to Assistant Library Director Bill Teschek, well over 500 books (and counting) were found to have been ruined by the mishap and will have to be replaced. Redden predicted the water-damaged carpeting would likely have to be replaced as well, as it would now be a prime candidate for mold growth.
Redden noted that public libraries in Hampton Falls and North Hampton will step in to help make books available to the library's younger patrons. With the Children's Room "closed till further notice," said Redden, some regular on-going activities such as weekly Storytimes have been cancelled.
"There won't be access for a while," predicted Redden.