On September 12th 2018, heavy rain accompanied with thunder and lightning affected the Wheaton campus, causing the Dimple to fill with water and many other places on campus to flood. Such flooding in the Park Hall basement caused issues with wired and non-wired Internet access as well as InsideWheaton, all of which were quickly assessed and fixed. One place that was unexpectedly affected was the Wallace Library.
As stated by Megan Brooks, the Dean of Library Services, on the day of the storm the “library staff encountered water entering the second stacks room from the ceiling above two book ranges.” Though photos taken by students of the water leakage looked dramatic, “quick action by staff and student employees means the impact [was] small. Staff put plastic sheeting over the stacks and moved books into secure, dry areas.”
Having received such a fast, helpful response by student workers, Brooks expressed her gratefulness to all of the students who offered to help, and, despite the incident, was glad to have been introduced “to the kindness of the Wheaton community.”
Brooks continued to describe the effects of the leak, discussing that “within 2 hours, we began assessing the books for damage. We removed more books from the shelves than necessary, just to be safe. Fortunately, the vast majority of the books removed are totally dry.” Those books that did get wet are being dried following guidelines developed by the Northeastern Document Conservation Center. Unfortunately, Brooks also noted that “there are a small number of books that are unsalvageable,” though the library will “determine how best to replace them.”
John Sullivan, the Assistant Vice President of Business Services and Physical Plant, explained that “the leak in the library stacks primarily resulted from surface roof leaks above this area, in the vicinity of the patio space outside of Kollett. Clogged drains or small cuts in a roofing member are typical causes.” Though the leaking has been addressed previously in various ways, the excessive rain from the storm in such a short period of time “overwhelmed the drain systems and contributed to the leak re-occurrence. There may also be additional roof leaks in this area, with locations yet to be identified.” Sullivan’s staff is continually working to search for any more leaks, but this is made more difficult by the fact that “water will seek the lowest point to penetrate, so a leak showing in one area doesn’t necessarily mean that is where the penetration/leak actually is located.”
Sullivan affirmed that the “Trades staff will continue to collaborate with the Library administration on identifying and treating this concern.”