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Subject: Fire at DC Public Library

Fire at DC Public Library

From: Erin Blake <eblake>
Date: Wednesday, May 2, 2007
    Washington Conservation Guild
    Georgetown Fire Recovery

    On Monday, April 30, 2007 the Georgetown branch of the DC public
    library caught fire at noon.  The library roof was ablaze in
    flames when the firemen came to put out the fire.  Due to
    complications in the area with water pressure and fire hydrants
    not working, the fire quickly spread and the roof collapsed down
    into the building onto the second floor. The libraries holdings
    were unfortunately stored in this area, and in particular the
    Peabody Room which is the DC archive for original maps,
    documents, books etc for Georgetown was located in this area.

    Members of the Washington Conservation Guild responded to the
    scene on Monday, and quickly set up a chain of command, and
    coordinated with the DC library officials to perform disaster
    recovery within the next 24 hours.  The firemen began removing
    paintings and books at the scene on Monday, and initially 27
    items were removed and taken to conservation labs close by.  The
    fire lasted until at least 6pm.  The Washington Conservation
    Guild worked with area conservation organizations, museums, and
    the Smithsonian to establish a plan of action and to mobilize
    volunteers if necessary. We were given indication that it would
    be a few days before the building was safe enough to enter and
    remove the collections.

    We received word that the DC library officials had contracted
    Balfor to arrive on site with freezer trucks to deal with the
    enormous amount of materials that would be removed from the
    library when the building was deemed safe.  At around noon on
    Tuesday, May 1, 2007 we were told that items were being removed
    from the building by fire officials and other people at the
    site.  We mobilized a group of people from the Library of
    Congress and the WCG to be on site to to find out any
    information about the recovery effort, to meet with library
    officials and to help in any way possible. For the most part,
    Balfor and the DC library officials were handling the situation
    quite well.  WCG members left the site as most of the items
    removed were being repackaged, inventoried and put into the
    freezer trucks.

    However, at 5pm we received word that the Balfor folks could use
    extra help into the evening. Six members of the WCG arrived on
    site to assist with further removal of items from the building,
    reboxing dry collections and assisting wherever needed.

    The Washington Conservation Guild would like to thank the
    following members for their efforts over the past 2 days.  Larry
    Shutts (Page Conservation), Andrew Robb (Library of Congress),
    Eliza Gilligan (Smithsonian Libraries), Sarah Stauderman
    (Smithsonian Archives), Michelle Savantt (NMAH), Erin Blake
    (Folger Library), Scott Brouard (Hillwood Museum and Gardens),
    and volunteers from the National Postal Museum.

    This effort would not have been so successful without the
    coordination, advice and support of the American Institute for
    Conservation staff, Jane Long at Heritage Preservation, and
    Debbie Hess Norris who assisted us with contacting agencies who
    were available to help as needed. Mostly, the DC Public Library
    staff and officials and the staff of the Georgetown library
    should be commended for their recovery efforts, their on-going
    communication with the Washington Conservation Guild.

    The Washington Conservation Guild is holding its last meeting of
    the 2006/7 season at Hillwood Museum and Gardens on Thursday,
    May 3, 2007 at 5pm.  We hope all of you will join us for this
    meeting, where we will host a benefit raffle for the Georgetown
    Library Fire Recovery. Donations are being accepted through the
    WCG and can be mailed to the PO Box if you are unable to attend.

    Thank you to everyone in the WCG who offered their assistance
    and was standing by to volunteer if needed.  There will be
    follow-up meetings and additional work to be done, and we may
    call upon your services in the next few months to assist the
    library once the collections are stabilized.

    Lisa Young
    WCG President
    Washington Conservation Guild
    PO Box 23364
    Washington DC  20026
    wcg [at] washingtonconservationguild__org

                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:2
                    Distributed: Sunday, May 6, 2007
                        Message Id: cdl-21-2-001
Received on Wednesday, 2 May, 2007

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