Flooding Aftermath Shutters Shirlington Library
by KRISTEN ARMSTRONG, Staff Writer
|County government officials have decided not to reopen the sewage-sloshed
Shirlington Library, instead waiting for the new community library to open early
“Because the damage is extensive and because we're concerned about the safety of patrons and staff, we decided not to reopen,” said Susan McCarthy, manager of the Shirlington branch library.
On Saturday, Nov. 11, a pipe burst in the Shirlington Village building housing the library, allowing wastewater to come through the library's ceiling. Library staff discovered the flood the following Monday morning.
The flood has caused water damage and waste contamination. The library's ceiling, carpet, sheetrock walls, furniture and collections were all affected.
“Only a small number of materials were damaged initially,” said Arlington library director Diane Kresh. “But because the whole area was affected by waste contamination, we have to evaluate all the collection material before we decide which need to be replaced.”
An industrial hygienist has been brought in to make evaluations. Additionally, an insurance company is assessing the situation, to determine total cost of the damage and financial responsibility. A risk management company also is on site, examining the building's infrastructure.
The library system has rented the Shirlington Village space for several years, in anticipation of the opening of the new Shirlington branch. That opening is now tentatively slated for January.
“We feel bad about not being able to give patrons a goodbye, but we look forward to seeing them in the new location,” said McCarthy.
Library staff said they want to lessen the inconvenience of the situation for patrons as much as possible.
“We're doing everything we can to give service to our patrons,” said Kresh.
Library users can still return items in the Shirlington book drops, but are encouraged to use other branches, such as Central or Columbia Pike, for other library needs.
Susan McCarthy, manager of the Shirlington branch library, in the new Shirlington library, which is expected to open in January. (Photo by Kristen Armstrong)