Organisation - April 28, 2015

Significant water damage in library

Roelof Kleis

An accident with the sprinkler system has caused a lot of damage in the library in Forum. The library is closed until further notice.

The flooding occurred Saturday afternoon during proceedings on the sixth floor of Forum. The spaces that VHL leaves behind are made ready for education of Wageningen UR in July. Therefore preparatory work is already being executed in the weekends. During these proceedings something went wrong with the sprinkler system, according to building manager Ludy Zeeuwen.

How this could have happened is not yet known. In a short period of time a huge disaster occurred. According to Zeeuwen the water has gouged for 20 to 30 minutes. Thereby a few tens of thousands of litres of water have flooded the building.  The water sought its way down, from the sixth to the first floor.

Due to quick interventions the damage to the books  in the library is relatively small, according to head of public services Petra Otten. ‘A librarian has, with the help of students, saved 30 to 40 meters of books. That is around 3000 books that threatened to get wet by the running water. Eventually, according to Otten, only twenty books have been damaged. ‘And that is fairly recent material, so they are probably replaceable.’

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Until Saturday midnight a company has been busy with pumping water away. Since then numerous large fans and drying machines have been installed drying things. Saturday afternoon the library has, out of precaution, been closed to the public. Books can still be retrieved, but the handling takes place outside of the library, in the hallway. For studying, the computer rooms located elsewhere in the building, are open. The university has an education-free period this week. The library is then usually intensively used for studying.

When the library will be opened to the public is not clear yet. ‘We look at it on a day to day basis’, explains Zeeuwen.  Daily measurements are conducted to check on the humidity. Not only does the carpet have to dry, but also the concrete underneath to prevent the formation of mould.

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How large the total water damage is, can at this point, according to Zeeuwen, not be said yet. ‘Water damage can about one month later, still come to light. The cable trays are filled up, the carpet is affected on several floors and the lattice around the glass globe in the centre of the library got wet as well.’ Also the worksheets around the globe are, at the edges, already bending and seem lost.

The exhibition of botanical plants in the room of the Special Collections has been moved, out of precaution. Not because it is too humid, but because it is too dry, explains Otten. ‘The fans keep the humidity low, so that everything can dry. On the other hand, the humidity in the exhibition space has to be between 40-55%.