On Sunday, September 16, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library suffered significant water damage in the library stacks as a result of a water leak in a component part of the HVAC system. The damage to spaces and collections in the stacks is extensive. Libraries staff immediately performed an item-by-item assessment of all collections. Libraries’ Conservation staff applied collections preservation protocols, and as a result of this effort, a significant number of wet books were quickly and safely transported to a vendor partner’s facilities for professional drying and dehumidification treatment. Thanks to swift action, we expect that very few, if any, collection materials are damaged beyond repair. Materials will return to the stacks and become available for use as soon as possible.
The main reading room in Starr remains open, as do all reference, consultation, and Interlibrary loan services. However, all stacks areas will remain closed for several weeks. Please check our library blog (https://blogs.cul.columbia.edu/starr/) regularly, where we will post updates on progress, specific timelines as they become better known, and any other information affecting the use of library spaces and collections.
Because the incident increased the humidity levels in the stacks, we‟ve already begun a comprehensive dehumidification process to ensure that there is no long-term damage to the collections that remain in the stacks, even if they were not exposed directly to water. This will be followed by subsequent processes to thoroughly clean the stacks, and to repair damage to the facilities that must be fixed in advance of reopening the stacks. We are working to complete all of these tasks as quickly as possible so the stacks and study spaces can be reopened. We will continue to communicate with you as timelines become clearer.
Effective immediately, Starr has implemented paging services that will allow users to request items currently in the stacks, even as dehumidification, cleaning, and space repair are being conducted. These services will remain in effect until the stacks can be reopened to Library users. Paging will be performed according to the following regular schedule:
Requests received by 11am (Monday-Friday) will be available at the circulation desk by 1pm
Requests received by 6pm (Sunday-Thursday) will be available at the circulation desk by 8pm
Requests received by 10pm (Monday-Thursday) will be available at the circulation desk the next day at 10am
Requests received by 2pm (Saturday and Sunday) will be available at the circulation desk by 4pm
For items that remain in the stacks: records are marked in CLIO with the alert “Please contact Starr East Asian Library staff for assistance in paging this item.” Requests to have these items paged from the stacks can be submitted as follows: in the CLIO record for the item, go to the „Requests‟ tab above the CLIO record, and select “Item not on shelf?” (see image below):
For items that were removed from Starr for treatment: records are marked in CLIO with the alert “Temporarily unavailable. Try ILL.” These items may still be available through our BorrowDirect and Interlibrary Loan partners, and Starr library circulation desk staff will assist faculty and students in locating and requesting such items.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work with University Facilities to ensure that the affected spaces are clean and safe for faculty and student to once again access and use.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will respond as soon as possible.
Director, C.V. Starr East Asian Library