University Library Damaged By Heavy Rain

Ann Rabinko
Ann Rabinko

MANOA (KHNL) - More fallout from rainfall and again at the University of Hawaii's largest library.

Librarians in Manoa race to save thousands of soaked books.

On what happened a second time in three years.

Talk about bad timing. On Saturday roofers started patching some of the bad spots on the library but they got rained out. Unfortunately the rain didn't stop and the roof couldn't handle it.

There's a major salvage effort underway at Hamilton Library. Last weekend so much water seeped through the leaky roof, library workers ran out of buckets to contain it.

Library Preservation Specialist Ann Rabinko said "We had to put a huge canopy up in a very short period of time. It was like it was raining in the library."

Flood waters destroy priceless books. Leaks in the 60 year-old roof have threatened books before.

"We've had leaks in this library for many years and we have been containing with canopys but the amount of water that came down sunday morning was just incredible says Rabinko."

Emergency contractors scramble to save thousands of books dampened by rain water.

They stuff boxes full of books to be placed into a freezer.

Preservation Expert Kyle Hamada explained "A lot of the wet things on top shelf we identified early pulled them aside and got into the freezer. " That stops the hands of time. Experts can then defrost the books carefully and dry out the pages.

The water threatened rare documents including boxes of Tibetan scrolls.

Now students will find empty shelves. And many library workers like Ann Rabinko are in disbelief they are mopping up again, "It's really hard and what's really hard is a lot of us working in preservation. We are doing so because of the flood that happened in October 2004 so we are already working on things badly damaged working to restore it clean it."

The cost of installing that new roof is put at a quarter of a million dollars.

We have no estimate on how much it will cost to save the damaged books.