Soaked UH library reveals deluge of neglect, official says
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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Arnell Augustine of Hawaii Restorative removed books yesterday from the third floor of Hamilton Library. The University of Hawaii building suffered water damage from the weekend's wet weather.
A leak at the University of Hawaii's Hamilton Library caused about $200,000 in damage and is another example of neglect due to inadequate funding, a UH official said.
Before heavy rain this weekend, officials had been monitoring leaks in the same area of the library for a couple of years while awaiting permanent repairs, said Interim University Librarian Paula Mochida.
UH spokesman Gregg Takayama said the university has a backlog of 160 maintenance projects that amount to more than $120 million. Hamilton Library, near the top of the list, is scheduled for $250,000 in re-roofing next summer.
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Kyle Hamada conducted a routine check for water leaks Sunday at the University of Hawaii's Hamilton Library after heavy rain and found more water than usual in tarps used to collect dripping water from the ceiling.
Later that day, the leaks began to migrate, and Hamada, a conservation technician, decided to implement the library's disaster preparedness plan.
"It's a lucky thing we caught it in time," Hamada said.
While the library staff's responded quickly, the roof leak caused about $200,000 in damage that highlights a backlog of maintenance at the university, said interim University Librarian Paula Mochida.
Library employees had known about the leaking roof for years, and before Saturday's heavy rain, tarps had been hanging over books to collect dripping rainwater.
In the open stacks, several hundred books might have been seriously damaged by water, Mochida said. There has yet to be a value assessment.
"The library is just another example of neglect ... because we haven't been funded adequately," Mochida said.
Since the leaks began, UH hired contractor Hawaii Restorative to clear out thousands of books worth $60,000 from the Asia collection on the third floor, leaving seven bookshelves about 25 feet long bare under the sagging canopies.
Those books had been in danger of becoming wet or had collected moisture. Items with minor damage were boxed and placed in 40-foot refrigerated containers, while severely damaged items were freeze-dried to evaporate the moisture.
Next to the open stacks, a secured room containing rare and expensive items, such as a Tibetan scroll and some 300- to 400-year-old paintings, was also hit by leaking water. Crews cleared out a small room inside the secured area that housed oversize materials because water continued drip onto the plastic tarp yesterday.
Only one scroll got wet in that room, Hamada said. Employees kept the rest of the items in the closed stacks and will monitor the room's temperature and humidity to prevent mold growth.
Hamada said patchwork on the roof was scheduled for last week but delayed because of the weather. Workers were seen laying down sealant on the roof yesterday.
With the rainy season starting, Mochida hopes the roofing patchwork and regular checks of known leaks will be enough to prevent future problems.
UH spokesman Gregg Takayama said the patchwork is the "equivalent of patching potholes in the street" when the roof's foundation needs to be repaired.
Built in the 1960s, Hamilton Library is at the top of 160 backlogged university maintenance projects worth $120 million, Takayama said. Maintenance to re-roof the library has been scheduled for 2008, he said.
Sinclair Library, which was built in the 1950s, also had water leaks this weekend, but they were not as serious as at Hamilton Library, officials said.