Some of the oldest books in the library’s collection are pictured in 2017.

Some of the oldest books in the library’s collection are pictured in 2017.

File photo by Sean Work

Burst pipe dampens OU archives

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published February 6, 2019


ROCHESTER HILLS — Frigid temperatures led to a burst pipe at approximately 4 a.m. Feb. 1 in the Oakland University Kresge Library. 

“There was an inch or two of water on the floor when I got there Friday morning,” Oakland University Library Dean Stephen Weiter said. “Water had spread throughout the floor.” 

Weiter said a pipe in the ceiling of the library’s main floor had burst, and water had traveled through the wall and the floor to the lower level. “The lower level has the most damage,” he said. 

At press time, the library was closed to students, and school officials expected it to remain closed for several days. 

University archives and some special collections were discovered to have suffered water damage. 

“As far as we know, none of it is a total loss,” Weiter said. A company specializing in water damage treatment has frozen the damp papers. 

“The best thing to do to stabilize paper that is wet is to freeze it,” he said. “We believe almost all will come back intact and that we won’t permanently lose anything. We don’t think there is much permanent loss, but we don’t know for sure.”

Among the damaged items are an OU mascot costume, along with papers, old photos and some portraits. 

“They have all been sent out to be cleaned,” Weiter said. “Some file cabinets had photos in them that did not get wet, but we moved them off-site.” 

Weiter said OU is insured for any losses due to water damage. 

“We don’t know the dollar value of the damage yet,” he said. “It won’t be cheap, but we won’t know until we see the cost of the final repairs and repairs to the archives. It will take several weeks.” 

The library’s lower level will remain closed after the library reopens, he said, until damaged ceiling tiles and carpeting have been replaced. 

“This is pretty major, in terms of the scope of damage,” Weiter said. “Even if we reopen this week, the lower floor will be off limits for a few weeks.”