A Summer to Remember: Library Rallies after Flood

By Dot Bergin

LibraryRichard Callaghan probably wouldn’t have chosen to commemorate his tenth anniversary as Director of the Bedford Free Public Library by coping with a mopping-up operation following an A-C water pipe break!

Director Callaghan summarized the crisis and subsequent clean up at the regular meeting of the Library Trustees on August 11.  He had high praise for the Library staff, the Town facilities department and other town departments, and for ServPro, the damage-control company that was on the scene within minutes after the break was discovered to begin the drying out process. The company brought in 63 fans, huge dehumidifiers, and large air scrubbers, and applied fungicides to control mold.

Hardest hit was the Meeting Room, used by many organizations in town, which is still non-functioning but Callaghan is optimistic that it will be back in service when the fall schedule of programs resumes in October. Portions of the Children’s Room were also affected, with damage to some books, but happily, there was no damage to the main book collection or to the remarkable Connie Hanley paintings on display in the art gallery.

With the air conditioning out of commission, the Library was not able to open for the entire week of July 13.  Callaghan said patrons were very understanding about the need to close but were equally happy when the building reopened.  Meantime, the Library staff rallied quickly to find space for ongoing programs. Other Town departments stepped up to offer space as available and some major programs were moved to the multi-purpose room in Town Hall.  Bethany Klem, Children’s Librarian, came up with ingenious solutions so that kids’ events could go forward as planned. Fortunately, some of those programs were already scheduled to take place on the lawn.  The Trustees commended Callaghan and Assistant Library Director Noreen O’Gara on their professional handling of the crisis but, as Callaghan said modestly, “Our job is to make things happen.”

Despite the extraordinary strain on the Library staff, Director Callaghan reported that the summer is going well overall. Many patrons are using Overdrive to download books; that usage has gone up 18 percent. Resource sharing-which is the borrowing and lending of materials from and to other libraries-is also increasing. August comes to a conclusion with the End-of-Summer Bash! for Teens on Wednesday, August 26, from 2 to 4 pm and the End-of-Summer Party on the lawn on Thursday, August 27, beginning with popsicles at 6 and a concert at 6:30 pm.  For adults, there is still time to read more books and enter in the weekly drawings, with the Grand Prize drawing on Monday, August 31 at 5 pm.


There has been a delay in repairing the Meeting Room because the company engaged to do the work has been extremely busy taking care of schools damaged by the severe winter weather. Once the school jobs are finished, work can begin on the Meeting Room.

As for the rusted A-C pipe on the roof that caused all the trouble, it is being replaced, as is its companion pipe. These are insulated iron pipes wrapped in aluminum, and fabricated by a company in Haverhill. The installation process today is different from the original installation some 15 years ago and should prevent a recurrence of the July disaster.

Friends’ Book Sale

Questions came up about the Friends of the Library book sale which normally takes place over Bedford Day weekend. Because the meeting room may not be available, the book sale will likely be scaled back but Callaghan is confident that it will go ahead, if on a limited basis. He is meeting with the Friends of the Library board next week to work out details.  Watch The Citizen for an announcement!

Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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