Water in the library

Joseph Pratt

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The South Webster Branch of the Portsmouth Public Library is currently in the process of recovering from water damage— not from between the pages of “The Old Man and the Sea,” “Moby Dick,” or “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”— but in the form of a leaky hot water tank.

The library believes the break occurred around October 9, and since the South Webster Public Library is closed on weekends, the water continued to flow and ruin walls, flooring, and carpet of the library over multiple days.

The library was immediately closed to assess damage and consider a reconstruction route.

Insurance claims have since been filed and the Portsmouth Public Library has begun the necessary renovations on their county branch.

Portsmouth Public Library Executive Director Paige Williams commented on the matter, claiming that many walls had to be replaced, the carpet had to be removed, new tile had to be put down, and more, to make the library safe again.

Most of this has proven to be a lot of work.

“It is taking a while to get things done,” Williams explained. “When you do work like this in your home, you have to move your furniture to work around the mess, but that is a little more complicated for us. We have thousands and thousands of books, which are very heavy. Not to mention, our shelving units are huge. All of these things will need moved and it takes a long time.”

The library is hoping to reopen on November 3, but Williams explained that nothing is definite during construction. She went on to say that she and the library representatives hate to close the branch for so long, but it is important in ensuring the work is done correctly.

While the speculatory November 3 date should mark the opening of the library, Williams explained that the youth portion of the library will remain closed while more work is completed.

During the time that the youth area of the library is closed, Williams said that the books will be moved into another location, so that patrons will not be losing any services.

“All of the materials for children have been relocated,” Williams said. “In order to get the library back open as quickly as possible, we did this so we can continue to work on that part of the library, all while the rest is open and still offering services.”

Williams said, at this time, there is no estimated opening for the library’s youth center.

The library is thankful that the damage was restricted to cosmetic aspects of the building, and no technology or books were harmed. The water tank that leaked was in an enclosed area, so it kept water from spraying or saturating everything in the library.

Williams said that the renovations will prove to be good for the library, since the carpet will be newer and nicer, along with other additional touches done during renovations.

“The first thing patrons will notice is new carpeting, which is very nice,” Williams said. “From where they had to fix some of the walls, they will look a little different, as well.”

More time will be spent on the youth area, not only because of the increased damage, but to also create a better atmosphere.

“People won’t notice a huge change in the library as a whole, but, what we have decided to do is get the child area fixed with some big changes,” Williams said. “The area will be much brighter, more colorful, and overall more kid-friendly.”

The South Webster Library is at 464 Webster Street, South Webster, Ohio. All other branches of the Portsmouth Public Library are open and operating.

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.

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