Deep freeze wreaks havoc on town library

Above, a water pipe in the Pierson Library’s fiction section burst overnight Friday, Jan. 3 causing water damage and the loss of 800 books. The library was forced to remain closed for three days and was re-opened Wednesday, Jan. 8.

Above, a water pipe in the Pierson Library’s fiction section burst overnight Friday, Jan. 3 causing water damage and the loss of 800 books. The library was forced to remain closed for three days and was re-opened Wednesday, Jan. 8.

By Sheri Duff

When Pierson Library employee Carol Casey reported to work Saturday morning, she heard running water first. Then she noticed an inch or more of standing water that stretched from the fiction to the non-fiction section. “When I opened the front door I heard what sounded like a waterfall,” Casey said. “I quickly realized that a water pipe in the ceiling in the fiction section had burst overnight, so I turned the water off as fast as I could. Unfortunately the leak had already caused a great deal of damage. Over 800 books were destroyed. Once I began to dispose of the water-logged books it occurred to me that I was throwing away some my best friends: Faulkner, Dickinson, Hemingway, and more. It was awful.”

Although the library remained closed until Wednesday morning while dehumidifiers and fans dried out the carpet to prevent mold and mildew, there is much to be thankful for. “First and foremost no historical documents were damaged,” stated Library Director Lara Keenan. “Those documents were irreplaceable so that was my greatest concern. In the end my fears were unwarranted.”

And thanks to the quick-thinking Casey and the clean-up professionals the damage was kept to a minimum. “SERVEPRO was wonderful,” said Keenan. “They arrived immediately and basically took over the clean-up effort. Their expertise was invaluable.”

Another reason for gratitude is insurance. “We are already working with our insurance company. In fact, Shelburne’s Finance Director Peter Frankenburg has already submitted a claim,” commented Keenan. “Some repairs are already underway even though we haven’t heard anything official from the insurance company yet. We are hopeful that our insurance will cover the entire cost of the damages and restoration of the library.”

The outpouring of support has also been gratifying. “When something like this happens, it’s nice to know that so many community members support the library. In fact, numerous residents have already called or emailed to see how they might help,” she acknowledged. “Right now we don’t have many answers. Once we know more I’m happy to call on supporters for help.” Library enthusiasts interested in helping should the need arise, may email Keenan at lkeenan@shelburnevt.org or call 985-5124.

The Pierson Library wasn’t the only Shelburne building to sustain damages because of the polar vortex. Burst pipes were also reported from Shelburne Country Store and Barkeaters. According to Facebook the Country Store reported that most of the store would re-open on Sunday, Jan. 5 after an unfortunate pipe freeze.

“Even though the damage to the library was terrible,” Keenan informed, “it could have been so much worse. Faced with adversity, everyone cooperated, no questions asked. This experience is a testimony to the town and its generosity of spirit. We are incredibly blessed.”

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