Janurary 12, 2024
To All Our Wonderful Patrons and Citizens:
Thank you so much for your patience and well wishes over the last few days as we have dealt with this unexpected water incursion into our building. When staff first arrived on the morning of the 10th they were greeted with quite a scene of fallen ceiling tiles and soaked carpet, standing water on tile floors, and a general mess. They sprang into action quickly and all the right calls were made to get remediation crews here as quickly as possible. By mid-day Wednesday crews were already here, cleaning up debris and water. They have made excellent progress. We are currently surrounded by industrial fans and dehumidifiers drying out all the affected areas and preventing any future issues with mold or mildew.
A couple of reassurances: there is no structural damage to the building, everything is largely cosmetic. The ceiling tiles look awful, but are going to be quickly replaced. The carpets are wet, but drying quickly. The roof held up well and the leakage seems to be seepage from an exterior wall. The massive amount of snow received, followed by rain and extreme melting just created too much moisture for the drains to handle and the water found its way in and spread.
The collections are also fine. We can’t explain it but all the leaks were contained to big empty spaces in the mezzanine, offices, and open spaces near the circulation desk and entry way. This is great news as it spares us the time and cost of replacing our large collection. We have a few CDs drying off, a few books we may need to replace, but otherwise the collection is almost untouched. Our servers and computers are also good, our furniture and study pod are completely unharmed, and the Friends’ Shop didn’t see a drop of water.
So why are we still closed? The simple answer is we must dry out and allow work crews to complete their assessment and make sure everything is good to go before allowing the public back in. We have kept the Mayor’s Office, Inspectional Services, and the Board of Trustees updated every step of the way and are working with everyone to coordinate and make sure this is all done safely, quickly, and correctly.
The Board of Trustees owns our building and is committed to keeping it safe, comfortable, and functional. They are fully engaged and will not neglect any needed investment in the upkeep and repair of the building.
We, and the Mayor, recognize how important the Library is to so many of you and how much you have missed being here over the last few days. Haverhill’s support of the Library is so gratifying as a librarian, especially at a time where so many librarians are facing hostility and judgment from citizens and politicians. Our City Council, Mayor, and other elected representatives have been vocal supporters of our Library and staff over the years, we are grateful for them, and for the amazing public that crowds our building seven days a week. You may love the Library, but we live the Library. We have devoted years of education, training, professional development and a bare minimum of forty hours a week, every week to the Library and what we can bring to our citizens, so believe me when I say we are perhaps even more eager to get back to “normal” than you are.
However, this situation is serious and we need to take our time to get it right. Our goal is to allow crews to work as extensively as possible during this long holiday weekend and then reopen Tuesday the 16th for normal hours. This is dependent upon things going smoothly this weekend and getting the okay from the City to reopen. However, work will continue so we will be offering limited services when we first reopen. Think back to when we initially reopened during COVID. We will have limited access to the building and will offer hold pickups and other basic services. In-person programming will be on hold for the time being.
As work is completed, we will increase services until we are back to normal. We will keep you updated as this happens. We encourage you to call (once we are back open), email, or drop in with questions. Our website and social media will be updated regularly. We do not currently have a final “back to normal” date yet, but we will let you know when we do.
I have been with HPL for almost 11 years now, most as your Director, and I can say we have faced a lot of challenges during that time—the biggest being a global pandemic—and come through with renewed enthusiasm and commitment. This will be no different.
You have a devoted staff (special shout out to our custodian Luis who has been amazing throughout this process), a committed and supportive Board of Trustees, and a Mayor and City Council who not only value the Library but are patrons as well. We all share the goal of an outstanding HPL and are constantly working towards making it work for you.
Again, we appreciate your support now and always and will do our best to be back to full strength as soon as possible.
Sarah I. Moser, Director
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Check our website for details and access to remote services: www.haverhillpl.org