The Wallingford Public Library is drying out after a sprinkler system malfunctioned over the weekend, destroying thousands of books in the Children’s Room. Now the community is coming together hoiping to help re-stock the empty shelves.
The library director says roughly 12,000 items were ruined in the picture book section of the library that looked more like a lake Sunday. The sprinkler head is believed to have been damaged by the ice and extreme cold.
Firefighters helped drain the water and save the book train, but the collection cannot be dried out.
“A lot of times the glossy pages will stick together once they’ve gotten this wet,” Sunnie Scarpa, head of children’s services at the library said. “The mildew will eventually cover this completely so unfortunately they are not salvageable at all.”
While they assess the damage and air quality concerns, the room is off limits. They have set up a makeshift desk out front where children can browse the books that were returned after the incident. They are also helping them locate books at other libraries.
“It’s sad because we love coming here. It’s just our place to go,” Melanie Carante said.
So many parents feel the same way, which is why the library is welcoming donations online here.
Insurance will cover most, but not all of the cost.
“They give a present day value which doesn’t always cover some of the books that are hard to find,” library director Jane Fisher said.
They welcome the financial support as they dry out, but they are urging patrons not to run out and donate their books from home just yet.
“A lot of families have the same favorite books so we could potentially end up with 100 copies of Goodnight Moon,” Scarpa said.
They do not yet know when the Children’s Room will be back open, but all of their children’s programs are going on as scheduled in different parts of the library.