As reported on the Drexel Libraries Twitter page Sept. 8, the lower level suffered water damage that destroyed the carpets. While the basement is currently closed for repairs, the first and second floors are open to students.
According to Jennifer James Lee, marketing and events associate for Hagerty Library, the lower level will remain closed for a short period of time until all the carpeting can be removed and replaced. Although the damage occurred during the term break while many students were not on campus, the library is working hard to ensure the closure will not affect students too far into the fall term.
“We’re working to get everything done as quickly as possible because we know students are coming back, and they’ll need to use the library,” James Lee said. “We’re hoping to open at least the bulk of the area right away, though some of the smaller spaces … might be put off for a little longer so we can have the larger spaces opened.”
The Sept. 7 flooding occurred after weeks of inclement weather, including an Aug. 28 hurricane that brought six inches of rain to Philadelphia. James Lee explained that the flooding in the library was not a result of any negligence on Drexel’s part; rather, the record-breaking rains that took place in August proved too much for Philadelphia to handle.
“We survived the [Aug. 23] earthquake and the hurricane, and then that week of rain [after the hurricane] led to the water overflow,” she said. “Because of all the rain that took place, the Philadelphia sewer system couldn’t move water out of the city fast enough. This [damage] wasn’t caused by a flaw in our building.”
James Lee noted that damage did not extend beyond the carpet. The University Archives, which are kept on the lower level of Hagerty, were not impacted by the flooding.
“All the materials in archiving are fine. The only items that were damaged other than the carpet were items in staff offices that were directly on the floor,” James Lee said.
She added that students could request materials from the lower level as needed, to be picked up at the circulation desk.
While in the process of removing the carpeting, a minimal amount of asbestos was detected in the building. The University adhered to the necessary safety precautions for the removal of the asbestos, and removal took place during the library’s off-hours, according to James Lee.
“We are working with University Facilities to get the lower level reopened as quickly as possible so that students can use the space, but also want to make sure that we are adhering to all appropriate safety measures,” Danuta Nitecki, dean of libraries, said.
According to James Lee, the lower level is scheduled to reopen Sept. 19 for student use.