Renovation moving slowly for fire damaged library

Posted at: 01/08/2014 5:29 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The North Valley has been without a branch library for more than five months now.

KOB Eyewitness News 4 has learned folks will have to wait even longer before the branch reopens.

An arsonist started a fire inside the library in July, charring books and heavily damaging the rest of the building.

Months later, crews are still at work and windows are blocked.

"Our community has really missed this, it was such a benefit," said Flo Curtis, who works at a public health clinic next door to the library.

She says it used to be an oasis.

"Most of our patients don't have computer access, so they would use the computer access at the library," she said.

No more.

For more than five months, there have been no computers or books here -- only workers and a big empty space.

"Why has it taken so long?" said Curtis.

The answer isn't simple, and neither is the damage workers are trying to fix here.

Workers had to replace wooden columns structurally unsound after the fire.

Directly above where the fire started, you can easily see the ghosts of major soot damage on the ceiling.

Workers had to sandblast every square inch of the wood inside the building. It was thick with black soot after the fire.

The price-tag on the repairs will run about $900,000 to clean books and furniture, replace total loss items, and for storage in the meantime.

All of the restoration is covered by city and county insurance, but the library's website has been asking for donations.

Those, library director Dean Smith tells KOB by e-mail, are for updates to the building including new reading rooms and better data lines for computers.

New overhead lights going in on Wednesday will be energy-efficient to cut power costs.

But smith also says the library won't open until, "early spring."

For Flo that's not exactly concrete enough to lean on.

"I think it's been an exceptionally slow process," she said.