FRASER - The Fraser Valley Library reopened at 10 a.m. today, Monday, May 2, after being closed since a burst pipe caused extensive damage in early February on a day that will not soon be forgotten.
"You have to come to the Fraser Valley Library! We have a flood!" was the call I received at my office at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 3.
I quickly loaded my car and headed from Granby to Fraser and arrived about 30 minutes after the phone call. I opened the staff entrance and stepped into an inch of water in the staff workroom.
I headed toward the center of the building, to the main entrance hallway that accesses the public restrooms. A pipe above the public restrooms that feeds the fire suppression sprinkler system had frozen and burst. This event occurred after repeated nighttime temperatures of minus 40 to minus 50 degrees. Small shifts in insulation over the pipes were unforgiving, and the freezing of the pipe and eventual bursting of the pipe was the result.
According to eyewitnesses, it initially appeared as though a fire hydrant had been turned on in the restrooms and flooding of the building was rapid. The library was full of working staff and public who were reading, browsing books, using public computers or using the wireless access with their own laptop computers.
Everyone simply sprang into action moving books, computers and furniture away from the source of the water. The East Grand Fire Department was on site in minutes. In addition, local contractors were called and arrived within the hour.
Vacuums, fans and dehumidifiers were activated throughout the building. This prompt action from the community, the fire department and local contractors greatly reduced the loss of materials, computers and furnishings.
The ceilings in the restrooms collapsed. The drywall and counters in the restrooms were a loss as well as the tongue and groove pine ceiling in the hallway.
The water spread throughout the building, causing the loss of the original carpet in the 13 year-old building. The Grand County Library District (GCLD) had already budgeted funds to both replace the carpet and paint the interior of the building with a closure scheduled for August, but not in February, and not with this additional destruction. It was quickly decided to try and make the best of an unfortunate event.
GCLD's liability insurer advised that GCLD should do what is necessary to get the building reopened. Work began immediately to do just that. All contents of the building were moved to a heated warehouse in Denver. Drywall and wood ceiling were replaced in the damaged areas. Every square inch of the building was painted, carpet tile installed, linoleum floor tile and damaged counters replaced. While the opportunity existed, and using a combination of budgeted and gift funds, additional electrical and data outlets were added.
Donated funds allowed for planned enhancements including an LCD screen to inform customers about library programs and services, a new clock, a new exterior thermometer, some new window blinds and child-sized computer keyboards for our youngest computer users.
When the library materials were returned to the building, extra staff, volunteers and community service helpers made the difference in devoting many hours of labor organizing the book shelves, performing clean-up projects and attention to a multitude of details to prepare the library to welcome back the community.
While the library was closed for reconstruction the community has been very patient. As soon as possible an annex to the library was opened in the staff workroom, to provide public computer and wireless access, new book browsing, and placing and pick-up of reserved materials. The public also utilized the other branch libraries in the District, Granby, Juniper at Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs and Kremmling and the 24/7 online branch, www.gcld.org.
The Library District and its staff are thrilled to welcome the community back to full hours in the Fraser Valley Library on May 2. Thank you for your trust and patience.