The University of Kansas Libraries
Libraries preservation group wins KU's annual Team Award
May 24, 2013
Members of the Library Preservation Emergency and Disaster Planning Committee were granted the Team Award at an annual university employee recognition ceremony held in the Kansas Union Ballroom on May 2.
Before classes began for the semester last fall, a water main broke on Mississippi Street, leaking water into the adjacent Spencer Museum of Art. However, the majority of the flood damage took place in the Murphy Art & Architecture Library on the bottom floor of the museum. It was estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 books, approximately 10 percent of the library's collection, had sustained water damage during the flood.
In the days following the flood, library staff and nearly 150 volunteers worked diligently to remove materials from the building. Damaged books were moved into temperature-controlled trailers and transported to a treatment facility in Chicago. Undamaged items were moved to the library annex on west campus while the Art & Architecture Library underwent restoration and repairs. As a result of the incredible effort and preparation of library staff, the library reopened on September 17, only a month and a half after the flood.
The successful response and movement of the library’s materials is due largely to the work of members in the conservation services department at KU Libraries, including a special team that had prepared for such disasters before the flood in August. The Preservation Emergency and Disaster Planning Committee (pictured below) had practiced a procedure that involved treating and packaging damaged books as well as strategies for organizing library relocation efforts. Given their readiness, this group of conservation staff was able to swiftly organize a group of volunteers and efficiently clear materials from the library in just one day. Because of this, the damaged items were sent to a treatment facility as quickly as possible and the Art & Architecture Library was able to begin renovations before the start of the academic year.
Inter-library borrowing coordinator Sheila Orth, who was deeply involved with the transition of library materials in addition to being a member of the volunteer effort, nominated the group for the KU Team Award. Having worked in preservation before, Orth noted that the group approached the immediate response to the flood in a calm and organized fashion. Their leadership not only provided direction during a chaotic event, but it also set in motion the successful and speedy recovery of the Art & Architecture Library as well.
One of the top 50 libraries in the Association of Research Libraries by volumes held, and the largest library system in Kansas, KU Libraries advance discovery, innovation and learning for KU, the state and a rapidly expanding community of world scholars.