Reading room closed for repairs, while rest of library on regular hours

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Kirsten Freeman-Benson, youth services librarian at West Slope Community Library, shows where water damaged the north wall of the reading room where magazines and periodicals are located. The West Slope Community Library sustained snowstorm-related structural damage over the weekend when a buildup of snow and ice blocked roof gutters and sent water into the wall on the building’s north side.

The moisture damaged drywall, paneling and carpet along much of the wall and closed the popular neighborhood library’s reading room, which contains newspapers, magazines and various surplus books it stores on tables and carts. No reading materials were notably affected.

Technicians with the Washington County Cooperative Library Services were on hand Monday morning to remove paneling from the entire north wall to evaluate damage and let the underlying sheetrock, vertical wooden studs and carpet dry out.

The library at 3678 S.W. 78th Ave. had been closed since noon on Thursday, when a three-day snowstorm first hit the area, and didn’t reopen until Monday at noon. The library is normally closed on Sunday, but workers came in to “get caught up,” said Youth Services Librarian Kirsten Freeman-Benson.

“Fortuitously, workers came in on Sunday and saw it. If they hadn’t, we would’ve come in Monday morning and been shocked and had to deal with it with a lot more urgency,” she said. “Because it was already on the radar, we knew what to expect.”

The library opened for regular hours on Tuesday. by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Books sit in a dry space on a cart next to wood paneling that was removed by the staff at the West Slope Community Library.

The employees moved shelves and books away from the wall on Sunday to avoid water damage in the building, which consists of two or three prefabricated modular buildings fused together.

While the north “magazine room” will be closed until further notice to accommodate repairs, the library’s main area and children’s room remains open to the public.

Tim Vandamelen, a maintenance technician with Washington County, surmised the quantity of snow and ice built up in the aluminum roof gutter left no path for water to go once melting and rainfall began on Sunday.

“Snow dams up the drains, and water builds up on the edge of the roof,” he said. “That water can work its way into the building.”

Gary Casaus, a Washington County environmental technician, said water damage at the library is one of the more unique problems resulting from the extended weekend storm, which required a significant amount of snow removal on the part of county crews.

“We usually don’t have gutters, but more flat roofs that drain. We haven’t heard of other (facilities) leaking,” he noted.

Roof leaks aren’t unheard of at the West Slope facility, but wet walls and carpet is another matter, Freeman-Benson said. “We’ve had leaks before, but this was a big one.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Gary Casaus, an environmental technician with the Washington County Facilities Department, removes wood paneling from a wall in the West Slope Community Library.

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