Burton Barr Central Library now estimates only 6,000 books damaged by storm

Officials say a new estimate shows fewer books were damaged than previously thought. There is still no timetable on reopening the library.

PHOENIX- Officials from the Burton Barr Central Library have reported that only 6,000 books housed at the library were damaged by a microburst that swept the area Saturday evening, which is significantly less than the 50,000 books they estimated early this week. 

"While we never want to lose one book, that number is a fraction of the library’s estimated 500,000 collection of books at Burton Barr," said Lee Franklin, spokeswoman for the City of Phoenix's Library system.

The damage books, she said, were primarily from the Reference Section of the library and were mostly older materials such as almanacs, atlases and encyclopedias. 

Earlier this week, Franklin said any damaged books will be taken out of circulation and the remaining, undamaged books will be packed and shipped out today to other public library locations so that people can still check out books while the Burton Barr location is closed.

And all 208 Burton Barr employees have now been reassigned throughout the Phoenix Public Library system, according to Franklin.

The Burton Barr Central Library will be closed until the cleanup and repair process is complete. There is no given timeframe at the moment. 

On Saturday, the library's building maintenance crew reported a leak right before 8 p.m. Fire crews responded and found a microburst moved roof tiles, which the roof is designed to do, however, at one point the roof membrane was lifted up and when it slammed back down the impact broke a sprinkler pipe.

The sprinkler system set off causing about 50 to 60 gallons of water per minute to flow throughout the building, Phoenix Fire Department said.

The floor of the Rare Book Room was damaged, but fortunately, the rare items and artifacts were untouched. Repair crews have pulled up the damaged floor, Franklin said.

The cost of the repairs and the cause of the water leak is uncertain at this time.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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