UIUC Rare Book Library Closes Due to Mold

UIUC Rare Book Library Closes Due to Mold

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Rare Book and Manuscript Library—which occupies a vault within the main library—closed February 25 to address a mold outbreak.

No more than 5% of the 300,000-item collection has visible mold, Associate University Librarian for Collections Tom Teper told American Libraries. However, “mold spores permeate the entire vault, having, we believe, been circulated through the HVAC system,” he wrote in an e-mail message, noting that the system dates to the mid-1980s.

The mold was discovered in late fall 2007, but library officials delayed action to “take advantage of the dry winter climate in central Illinois to plan our response,” Teper explained. “After stabilizing the environment, we needed to determine how extensive the damage was, plan for recovery operations that would be performed completely by university personnel or assisted by contracted employees, and secure support for the recommended course of action.”

The library has contracted Texas-based BMS Catastrophe to clean the vault and the collection using high-efficiency particulate air vacuums and magnetic cleaning cloths. The contract limits the total cost to no more than $800,000. Cleanup will take approximately 10 weeks, with the library tentatively scheduled to reopen May 5. Library staff believe that nothing in the collection is damaged beyond repair, although one type of pamphlet binder and one type of cloth used in clamshells were particularly susceptible to mold and will be replaced.

Posted on February 29, 2008. Discuss.