Friday, February 08, 2008

Mold Outbreak at Univ. of IL

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]


Narcissus said...

Thank you for your kind post. I'm not a spokesperson for the university or library, but as a book-loving UIUC student, I appreciate your supportive attitude. There is a lot of misinformation floating around and I've read some nasty comments directed toward the RBML, so it's a relief to see someone who is not jumping to conclusions and attacking the very people who are most upset about this situation.

And honestly, it seems that people are making this a much bigger issue than it really is. It'll all be okay in the end.

JBD said...

narcissus - you're welcome. These things - horrible and horrifying as they are - happen. I have absolutely no doubt that the good folks at RBML have done, are doing and will continue to do all they can to rectify this problem, and I hope it will allow the library to take the necessary infrastructural steps to make sure things don't reach such a crisis point again.