Chicago papers are reporting today that the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois "is infested with mold and will be closed down for several months." More than 15,000 books of the 300,000-volume collection have been found to contain mold, and that's just what's been discovered so far. "It's a significant portion of the collection," said a librarian at the university.
"The Rare Book library will close Feb. 25 so an outside firm can undertake a painstaking cleanup of each item, as well as shelves, walls, floors and the ventilation system." The library hopes to reopen by the beginning of May. The articles note that the air-handling system for the rare books department is more than 25 years old.
A statement on the RBML's website reads in part "We are very sorry about this situation. It is a problem that has been in the making for years. This crisis gives us the opportunity to make things better for users of our collections, however, so we need to proceed, despite the present inconveniences to staff, faculty, students, and researchers around the world."
I know I join librarians, researchers and bibliophiles everywhere in wishing the staff of the library the very best of luck as they take this necessary step.
[h/t NIU RB&SC]