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After Hopkinton library fire, warehouse fills with damaged books

  • Bookshelves and boxes of books from the Hopkinton Town Library fill up a Servpro warehouse in Bow while the library undergoes repairs. Courtesy

  • Books are placed in a hydroxyl chamber at Servpro to get rid of the odor of smoke damage. Courtesy

  • Seat cushions from the Hopkinton Town Library are stacked up in a Servpro warehouse in Bow. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 9/15/2018 9:16:56 PM

The Hopkinton and Contoocook communities are still reeling from the near loss of their public library, but library Director Donna Dunlop says they should be ready to announce a reopening date in a couple of weeks.

“Within two weeks we will have a better idea of what our needs our,” she said on a phone call Friday. “So many volunteers have stepped up but we have nothing for them to do yet.”

Dunlop and the library staff were worried they lost all of their inventory of books and electronic media to smoke and water damage, but after taking an inventory of the damage, Dunlop said they should get about 95 percent of the collection back.

The library is working with Servpro to assess the damage to the collection. In all, about 1,200 boxes of books are being stored in Servpro’s Bow warehouse, along with furniture and other equipment the library hopes to salvage.

“They are literally wiping down every book,” Dunlop said.

The books are also being put through a hydroxyl chamber, which is used to get rid of the smoky odor that filled most of library after lightning struck the cupola and started a fire during a storm on Aug. 3.

The fire devastated the space below the cupola, where the sprinkler system kicked in and drenched the space to prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the building. The sprinklers did not activate in the rest of the building – they only will if there is excessive heat – saving thousands of volumes from water damage that would otherwise require them to be thrown away.

Dunlop said about 3,000 books were out in the community on loan when the fire occurred, and many of those are still being circulated as the library continues as a small operation inside the Slusser Center next door.

The next step, Dunlop said, is choosing a contractor to work on the renovation. Bids are expected within the next two weeks for the library trustees to review.

The lightning strike knocked out the library’s HVAC system, outdoor lights and fire alarm system. Smoke also reached and potentially damaged the building’s insulation in the ceiling. Dunlop said an engineering firm is conducting tests to see if the insulation needs to be replaced.

The timeline remains open-ended, as Dunlop says the library aims to reopen in three to six months. Once questions about the workload are answered, she says there will be a more definite reopening date to share.

“We have an incredible opportunity now to assess where we were and make improvements,” she said, adding that energy efficiency is “high on the list” of improvements.

Libraries in surrounding communities – including Concord, Bow, Weare and Warner – continue to honor library cards from Hopkinton. State Librarian Michael York paid a visit to the temporary library in Hopkinton on Monday.

“He just appeared in our little library at the Slusser Center. It’s great to have his support,” Dunlop said. “The entire library community has been so supportive.”


(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3339 or nstoico@cmonitor.com.)

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