Brunswick library reopens, flooded with support after water damage

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BRUNSWICK — Curtis Memorial Library reopened for the first time in four days Monday afternoon after one of the building’s sprinklers burst Jan. 3 and flooded the west entrance, atrium, teen area and main circulation desk.

The malfunction was caused by a pipe that froze in last week’s below-freezing temperatures, and Brunswick, Freeport and Topsham firefighters arrived after fire alarms were triggered and the library was evacuated.

Development Associate Joyce Schmitt said the pipe may have frozen due to the building losing heat for a period of time the night before.

Schmitt said damage to the library collection was minimal thanks to staff members, who quickly moved book carts out of the way. However, “about a half dozen” computers were damaged.

She added further assessment would be necessary, and that the Brunswick and Bath branch of ServPro, a company specializing in restoration from fire and water damage, worked at the library all weekend.

“We’re waiting for the assessors to come over and look at the computers and rugs,” she said. “We know we’re probably going to have to replace the drywall in that area where the pipes burst.”

Schmitt also said library staff received inquiries from people in the community about donating funds for repairs, and as a result have placed  a “donate” button for its “Flood Damage Fund” on the Curtis Memorial Library website.  All donations are tax deductible.

By the time it reopened, the library had already received about $600 in donations for flood-relief efforts. In addition to monetary help, Schmitt said several volunteers were on hand Monday to help put away books.

“Because this is such a busy library, we get close to 1,000 people a day coming through,” she said. “Even on a weekend we get a little bit of backlog, so (being closed) four days is unusual.”

In response to the high volume, the library asked members to refrain from returning books until Wednesday, Jan. 10. Schmitt said late fees would not be charged until then.

Over the weekend, the library also received help from the South Portland Public Library, where Library Director Kevin Davis offered to honor any Curtis Memorial Library cards for patrons who wanted to check out books.

Schmitt said she did not know if anyone had taken advantage of the offer, but called it an “amazing gesture.”

She added library staff would like to express their gratitude to everyone who helped in response to the flood.

“(I’d like) to reiterate how much goodwill came from the community: the responders that were here, staff and volunteers, inquiries and concern for the library,” she said. “We really appreciate it and how much the library means to the community.”

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Curtis Memorial Library closed early on the evening of Jan. 3 due to flooding from a sprinkler and remained closed until noon on Jan. 8. The building’s west entrance, circulation desk, teen area and atrium were damaged.

Damage to Curtis Memorial Library’s books was minimal, but approximately six computers were damaged in the Jan. 3 flooding.