Flooding at UH Library causes damage, service changes

Beginning Aug. 27, the lower level of the University Heights branch of the Heights Libraries experienced flooding that lasted, off and on, for roughly two weeks. The lower level is home to the branch’s children and teen areas, including the collections for both age groups.

While flooring, walls, and built-in furniture were severely damaged, none of the collection was damaged, thanks to the work of the University Heights staff.

“Our staff was truly heroic,” said Sara Phillips, University Heights branch manager. “They worked nonstop over the course of eight hours to move about 14,000 items up to the first floor. I don’t know how we did it—I guess it’s because we had to.”

Phillips also sang the praises of SafeSteam, a Solon-based water-remediation company that removed roughly 10,000 gallons of water from the building. The company has also removed damaged flooring, walls, and built-in desks and cabinetry; sanitized the spaces; and performed mold testing to ensure that staff and customers are safe in the building.

Phillips said she is optimistic that the building can reopen its main floor to the public on Oct. 3. Staff have converted the building’s first-floor meeting rooms into a temporary children’s section, and the northeast corner of the main floor into a temporary home for the teen collection. Adult services will continue, with public computers and seating still available. However, the small study rooms will be unavailable until further notice due to their current use as storage for items rescued from the lower level and as staff work spaces. The lower level will remain closed until further notice.

The cause of the flooding is still under investigation, and the library administration has been communicating with the city of University Heights as well as the Cleveland Water Department to determine what could have been the cause.

Customers are encouraged to call the branch at 216-321-4700, or check the Heights Libraries website (heightslibrary.org) and social media, before heading to the building, as the situation could change quickly.

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