Promoting the appreciation, enjoyment, and preservation of our library heritage
Monday, November 17, 2014
Water - the enemy of books and libraries
Detail of postcard showing library
I previously wrote a post about a book titled The Enemies of Books by William Blades (Trubner, London, 1880) with an emphasis on the portion of the book dealing with fire. In his book Blades wrote: "Next to Fire we must rank Water in its two forms, liquid and vapour, as the greatest destroyer of books." I was reminded of the danger of water to books and libraries by a recent article by Bernadette Lear titled "Pennsylvania Public Libraries and the Great Flood of 1936" which is available in digital form HERE. I also wrote a post about Ohio libraries and the flood of 1913. I have a postcard (shown above) depicting the impact of the Vermont flood of 1927 on Montpelier, VT and its library. That flood, "took out 1285 bridges, miles and miles of roads and railroads, and countless homes and buildings. Eighty-four people died in the flood, including Lt. Governor S. Hollister Jackson." Libraries in the United States have been damaged in recent years by water from major weather events including hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Some individual libraries experiencing water based disasters include the University of Wisconsin - Superior Library, Stanford University Libraries, Washington County Library (St. George, UT, to name only a few. Fortunately there are now procedures in place to recover damaged library materials in many instances.