Library mostly recovered from rainwater inundation

Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Spring Valley’s Library Board was pleased to be meeting above water during the June meeting, as library director Jenny Simon reported that the library flooded as the result of a backup on the roof during a rainstorm on Tuesday, June 4.

The flooding happened in the children’s section, as she explained that the backup weighed on the roof drain too heavily and that the drainpipe separated from the drain brackets, allowing water to run freely into the library.  A claims adjuster from the League of Minnesota Cities took stock of the damage, and Servicemaster arrived the same day.  The library was closed from Wednesday, June 5, to Tuesday, June 11 while families from the community pitched in to move shelving and materials. 

“The water was coming down so hard the drains just didn’t keep up, and the one just let go, and from that point forward, we had a skylight,” Simon told the board. “The rain came so fast and hard that it stopped up the roof drains.  I could see the clouds when I came in the next morning, and I could see water almost to the glass doors in the back.  We had Servicemaster here within an hour and a half, and we had to close the library.  John (Simon) and Gene (Ramaker) were actually the ones who made it safe – they got up there on the roof and fixed it for the night until we could get Sheldon (Plumbing and Heating) here.  They’re coming back to put up brackets on piping, clean the roof off and do some maintenance stuff to help out.  Right now, the drains are all clear.”   

Board member Rita Bezdicek asked Simon, “Should we get a roofer to make sure everything is all sealed up?” 

Simon replied, “Yes, we could.  Sheldon’s is going to clear it off and get rid of debris, but everything is running clearly.  Flat roofs in Minnesota…we’re very secure now, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a roofer check it.” 

She noted that there are ceiling repairs to be done, along with general maintenance work.  “We didn’t lose any shelving, but we had to move shelving – it’s not meant to be moved, and that made it a huge job that had to happen quickly.  We had to remove all materials, and our families moved the shelves,” she said.

Carol Gross inquired, “How about books lost?” 

Simon shared that the children’s section is now short nearly 200 books, but that insurance will help recover or replace them.  “We’re at 180 children’s books right now,” she said. “It hit our children’s holiday section.  We still have many children’s holiday books left, but it’s really hard to throw the Easter bunny away.  Overall, though, we got relatively very lucky compared to what the damage could have been, because we were able to salvage all our carpet.  The cleanup couldn’t have gone more smoothly.”  

In another matter, the flooding and the children’s summer reading program have delayed efforts to address the repair of the library’s exterior, which is showing some wear.  Simon stated that she still has to pursue getting a building inspector to come to the library. 

“He’s just a building inspector – he doesn’t have anything he can tell us we should be doing – so it’s an unbiased opinion, and that’s what we need right now,” she said.

The summer reading program has kept the library staff busy, hosting young readers during special presentations each week, including a sled dog team and a program on French voyageurs, but Simon still has an eye on building repairs and library policies. 

Gross shared that the dinner theater that the board had been asked to consider allowing in the library has since been slated to take place in Wykoff at another venue.  The board had discussed at length during previous meetings whether to allow the event to happen in the library, but the determination was made that if food were to be served, it would have to be kept in designated areas. 

Board member Bruce Hartert observed that the board already made a motion in March not to allow the use of the library for dinners, but that his question was whether the board was talking about the difference between serving a full dinner or just refreshments. 

Simon answered that it was her interpretation that dinners should not be served within the library’s collection and reading rooms but could be offered in the large meeting room where board meetings are held. 

“This room is perfectly fine for a meal – we have a kitchen here that people can use,” Simon said about the meeting room.

Bezdicek made a motion to specify that meals may be served in the meeting room but not in the library proper, and the rest of the board agreed.         

The board expressed its appreciation to John and Darlene Vrieze for their memorial honoring Glenna Vikse, to Nancy Willford in memory of Jerry Willford, and to those who assisted with helping the library recover from flooding.

The agenda noted, “The biggest thank you is to the staff at the library.  Jeanette (Ramaker), Sarah (Burmeister), Klarissa (Schoppers) – all did above and beyond and were available for every need the library had.  We also hugely thank our families, John and Isaac Simon, Gene and Hannah Ramaker, Mark and Joshua Burmeister, Corinna Wiemerslage, city administrator Deb Zimmer, city streets department and waste management crew – Chad Hindt, Cameron Fenton and Aaron Hamersma — Ace Hardware, The Pizza Place, Jill Shepard, Doc Shipton, Mike Hellerud and many more. People just really stepped up and wanted to help.  We feel very blessed to be in a community like that.”    

The Spring Valley Public Library is open Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 7 p.m., and the first and third Saturdays of each month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The friendly library staff is available to assist with most questions, now that everything is thankfully dried out and put back where it belongs.  For more information, stop at the library on Jefferson Street, just behind First National Bank, or call 507-346-2100.