Library HVAC Problems Lead to Concerns for Safety and Materials

A rise in humidity levels, water leaks, and a decrease in air quality have led to concerns over the safety of people and materials in the library due to the possibility of mold. Ever since the problem was detected over the summer, efforts have been made to address the failing heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC system.

Patrick Hennessey, Director of College Community Relations, stated that a site visit was made by the County Risk Management Office, and a survey was conducted by an outside company. Pro Safety Services LLC., a New Rochelle based safety management office, sent an email on September 27 to WCC staff disclosing the results of their survey.

“There was no evidence of visible mold growth that would indicate the need for mold testing,” according to the report from Pro Safety.

The report listed measures that were taken to address the water leaks and humidity. These measures included discarding or drying wet materials, placing a pail to collect water, and using an air handler to dry the area. As stated in the report, “Under these conditions, mold growth is unlikely to develop.”

There were also measures taken to ensure the safety of students and faculty. In an email sent out to library staff, Hennessey advised that any faculty who felt the need to relocate to other buildings should do so. He noted that the Disabilities Office had relocated for two weeks but returned to the library on September 17.

Hennessey described other measures that were taken to address the HVAC problems. This included installing fans and dehumidifiers, closely monitoring building temperatures, conducting frequent building walkthroughs, and changing the HVAC filters frequently, among other measures.

“Plant Services responded in a proactive and professional manner to correct the problems,” Pro Safety stated, which verified that the measures appeared to have helped with the leak.

Besides the safety of students and faculty, one of the major concerns was the result that the humidity would have on the Library archives. Yvonne Rode, Special Collections Librarian, said in an email that the temperature and humidity levels were excessive for materials.

She claimed that though special materials are stored in such a way as to prevent damage, it would be a while until they were able to determine if any permanent damage had been done to the collection.

The library must now go over their disaster plans to review how to respond to different issues, since the current plans focus on fire and water damage, but not the lack of an HVAC system.

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