Updates regarding mold are listed in reverse chronological order.
Update on remediation of mold-damaged books
The remediation phase of the recovery of mold-damaged books has now been completed with receipt on May 15 of the final shipment of cleaned books back to the Library Depository located in the midway area of Columbia. In total, 451,000 items were shipped to Texas during the past thirteen months for cleaning by two different remediation companies. Treatment of the books required 43 semi-trailer shipments round-trip from Columbia to Texas. A total of 426 pallets were prepared for shipment, with 21,668 boxes packed with books to be cleaned by hand. All 21,668 boxes have now been returned, and the books contained in them await processing.
There is still a much work to be done, but we are pleased to have the books back in the possession of the MU Libraries. We will be working to make the books available for patron use as quickly as possible, but many months are yet needed to complete this final phase of the recovery operation. Special thanks and congratulations are due to Brian Cain, Geoffrey Preckshot and Burt Fields, as well as to the many other library staff and temporary workers who have been assigned to this major project.
Chronology of MU Libraries Mold Incident,
at rented, secondary storage facility (UMLD2), 2013-2014
On January 24, 2014, an email sent to all MU faculty members confirmed what had been feared three months earlier when the MU Libraries first learned of the mold outbreak. Mold had contaminated the entire collection of over 600,000 printed books and journals stored in a rented storage space located in the Subtera caverns northwest of Columbia. There were only two available options to handle any of the items affected by the mold bloom: disinfecting items to eliminate or to neutralize mold spores, or destroying items so as not to spread mold to other print collections.
Preliminary estimates of the costs to remediate contaminated materials ranged from $2 to $3 per item. It was clear that the most preferred option – to treat all of the affected items – would be prohibitively expensive. At that time, MU Libraries staff resolved to treat as many as 300,000 items, the number that existing funds would likely allow. However, if only half of the contaminated volumes could be salvaged through treatment, the remaining items would necessarily have to be destroyed – a devastating prospect, to say the least.
Library staff began to analyze the affected materials to determine categories of items that should be either salvaged or destroyed. Simultaneously, efforts were underway to raise additional funds to enable treatment of more volumes. Planning began for ways to engage faculty members in the process of selecting materials that should be salvaged, while at the same time, duplicate items and easily replaceable materials (e.g., government documents) were made ready for destruction.
On February 10, 2014, the first duplicate items were sent for destruction, eventually to be buried in a landfill. It is important to note that the MU Libraries regularly discard books and other items from our collections, according to long-standing policies. Ordinarily, permanently discarded copies are not destroyed but rather placed in the Ellis Library Book Sale or sent to such agencies as Better World Books, which distributes useable books to schools and other agencies. The Libraries rarely destroy books, but every year some items from our collections are damaged by such things as beverage spills, insect infestation, and occasional mutilation by library users. In these cases, materials are routinely destroyed, and library selectors are alerted to the possible need for replacement copies.
Our analysis of affected materials identified an initial 300,000 items for treatment (a total of 303,000 were eventually sent), and another 138,000 items that were not duplicated elsewhere in the library collections of either MU or the other UM campus libraries. Approximately 188,000 contaminated items remained, consisting of some 80,000 copies of books and journals (duplicated in either print or online form), and another 108,000 federal government documents (readily replaceable from the collections of area libraries). The 138,000 non-duplicated items were set aside in the expectation that faculty members would assist library staff in determining those to be salvaged and those to be destroyed.
Beginning in May, 2014, the bleak prospects of the previous months were replaced by good news. A new, clean facility to store treated materials was leased, and preparations for occupancy began. The UM Procurement Office negotiated from our preservation contractor a favorable mold remediation cost of $1.43 per item. Then in June, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $400,000 grant to help with costs of recovery. This was the best possible news for library staff, because it meant there was no longer a need to determine what items of the 138,000 total should be salvaged. The grant funding would enable treatment of all the remaining 138,000 books being held for decision.
On October 20, the final shipment of contaminated duplicate items was sent for disposal, and no further destruction of any other materials was necessary. Because all of the approximately 188,000 items destroyed were duplicated or (in the case of federal documents) were being replaced, no scholarly content had been lost from the mold outbreak. In the end, the disposition of the contaminated materials, from October, 2013, through December, 2014, was as follows:
|Items salvaged via remediation (treatment by contractor)||441,000 items (70%)|
|Federal documents destroyed (replaced by copies from other libraries)||108,000 items (17%)|
|Law, medical and veterinary journals destroyed (online copies available)||33,000 items (5%)|
|Duplicate book copies destroyed (print copies available)||25,000 items (4%)|
|Duplicate journal copies destroyed (print copies available)||22,000 items (3%)|
The cost of recovery from the mold outbreak continues, but the following is an accounting of the expenditures from October, 2013 through December, 2014:
|MU Libraries Insurance Reserve Funds||$580,000|
|Mellon Grant Funds (July-Dec., 2014)||$254,000|
Chronology, September, 2013 to December, 2014
9/20/13 – First indication of high humidity and temperature readings noted in UMLD2. Investigations by June DeWeese, Michaelle Dorsey, Ann Riley and James Keyser-Andre ensue.
10/11/13 – Mold noticed on item retrieved from UMLD2 by Physical Processing staff in Ellis Library; Jim Cogswell alerted; Jackie Blonigen and Michaelle Dorsey visit storage facility and take pictures, accompanied by UMLD supervisor, James Keyser-Andre.
10/15/13 – Belfor Property Restoration Services contacted to conduct preliminary on-site analysis of mold infestation.
10/17/13 – Provost and Chancellor’s office alerted to presence of mold in UMLD2.
10/18/13 – MU Libraries subject specialists meeting at Ellis Library includes discussion of mold.
10/25/13 – MU Libraries initiate discussion with Business Services concerning requirements for likely selection of new storage site.
10/29/13 – MOBIUS and other partner libraries notified of mold presence in UMLD2.
10/30/13 – MU Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) inspection and report requested.
10/31/13 – Notice of non-renewal of Subtera contract (UMLD2 lease) sent to Business Services.
Library staff members initiate study of holdings at UMLD2 to determine unique or rarely-held materials; consultations begin with OCLC to assist in collection analysis, and with Hathi Trust to obtain digital access to materials if needed.
11/1/13 – Plans made to leave UMLD2 (Subtera caverns) by June 30 to avoid possible further exposure to summer heat and humidity.
11/4/13 – Initial press release issued to MU News Bureau and campus offices, announcing presence of mold in UMLD2.
12/2/13 – Library Committee members given detailed report on mold situation at monthly meeting. Updates on mold recovery efforts are presented at subsequent meetings of the Library Committee.
12/19/13 – Library of Congress Head of Preservation Directorate consulted.
Work continues to identify possible unique or irreplaceable contaminated items.
1/1/14 – Brian Cain from Ellis Library Technical Services begins assignment to oversee the two storage depositories. (Brian had worked in UMLD1 and UMLD2 for seven years before coming to Ellis.)
1/22/14 – MU Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) report received concerning type of mold and extent of contamination. ALL materials at location are confirmed to be contaminated with Cladosporium and Penicillium/Aspergillus. All materials currently in UMLD2 must either be decontaminated or be destroyed to prevent further spread of mold.
1/24/14 – Announcement to MU campus faculty issued about the mold situation, stating in part: “…the entire collection of approximately 600,000 printed volumes in the storage facility is contaminated and must either be treated to eradicate the mold or be destroyed…. We expect to remediate and to keep in our collections up to 300,000 volumes from the contaminated materials.”
1/30/14 – Chronicle of Higher Education news item on MU Libraries mold outbreak appears.
1/30/14 – New contract with Subtera issued, extending lease until June 30, 2014 (original lease had been due to expire as of 02/01/14).
1/31/14 – Email received from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation concerning the mold situation; Program Officer, Donald Waters, asks if the Foundation may be able to assist.
2/7/14 – “FAQ Regarding Mold at Offsite Storage” is posted on library website: http://library.missouri.edu/announcements/14/12/29/faq-regarding-mold-at-offsite-storage-2/. The FAQ, which has been updated periodically, includes a brief description of the mold outbreak, the disposition of materials affected, and information regarding resources to carry out treatment and storage. The FAQ page also describes the issues related to the rented storage space, and the plan to build an addition to the original depository (UMLD1), which remains mold-free.
2/10/14 – Disposal of UMLD2 materials identified as duplicates begins, according to existing library collection management policies. Initial materials sent for destruction include: journals from Health Sciences and Veterinary Medical libraries (duplicated online); Law Library journals (duplicated online); U.S. government documents (replaceable via copies from area libraries); duplicates of print materials available in Columbia locations; and items judged to be unsalvageable (damaged beyond recovery). Library selectors are notified about unsalvageable items in case replacement copies must be obtained.
2/11/14 – Outline of proposal submitted to Mellon Foundation for review. Foundation requests submission of full proposal by March 14, 2014, for Board review and decision at June meeting.
2/21/14 – RFP for remediation of approximately 300,000 contaminated items is issued by Procurement Services for contractor bids. This is the estimated number of items that can be remediated with available funding. Some 138,000 other contaminated items have been withheld for future decision, pending possible new funding from additional sources. If sufficient new funding is not available, review by faculty will be required to salvage any of these items.
2/27/14 – Jim Cogswell and Matt Gaunt meet with Faculty Council, at the Council’s request, to report on the mold situation. Due to lack of funds, only 300,000 items will be treated immediately, starting with areas of collection strength, and with unique or scarcely-held items. Libraries are reviewing ways in which faculty may be able to review lists of items not yet chosen for remediation, probably via a website. Campus Facilities is working to secure a new storage space so that we can vacate the current caverns by June 30. A grant application to a major private foundation is being prepared. There is a need to revive a UM System plan to build an addition to the existing purpose-built book depository, which has remained mold-free since opening in 1997. The MU Libraries’ overarching goal is to ensure that no student or faculty member will lose access to any of the scholarly content contained in our collections.
Collection Enhancement Fund is created to accept cash gifts received in response to news about mold recovery efforts. Initial goal of the fund is $50,000. Information available via the MU Libraries website:
3/5/14 – Second draft of grant proposal submitted to Mellon Foundation for review.
3/12/14 – Third and final draft submitted to Mellon Foundation and accepted. Mellon requests final electronic and print copies, with endorsement letters, by 3/21/14.
3/14/14 – Jim Cogswell and Ann Riley meet with Faculty Council Ad-Hoc Subcommittee on Mold at Subcommittee request. Ann informs group that the library disposes of materials according to existing policies “all the time.” Subcommittee asks to be able to review lists of materials to be permanently discarded. Subcommittee members are told such lists could be made available in the fall. Main concern of members appears to be loss of access to the content of physical books. Some indicate they do not consider electronic copies acceptable substitutes for print.
3/19/14 – Final Mellon grant application submitted; print copy delivered by FedEx on 3/20/14.
4/3/14 – Press release issued (and FAQ webpage updated) on the mold situation. Plan for disposition of contaminated materials includes three categories to guide decisions on remediation versus destruction. Category 1 includes examples of materials that will be treated and retained for library collections. In this category, some 300,000 items have been set aside, awaiting treatment by the mold-remediation contractor. Category 2 includes “multiple copies or readily accessible items that may be withdrawn permanently.” Category 3 includes items awaiting decision either to decontaminate or to destroy, depending on available funding. Approximately 138,000 items are in this third category and are held awaiting decision as to final disposition.
4/4/14 – Contract for mold remediation on first 300,000 contaminated items issued to Belfor Property Restoration. Seven bids were received in response to the February RFP.
4/23/14 – First load of contaminated materials to be cleaned is shipped out to Belfor processing facility in Ft. Worth, Texas.
5/1/14 – New UMLD2 facility lease (secured on 4/29/14 by Business Services and Campus Facilities) goes into effect. New facility begins to be made ready with segregated areas to isolate contaminated from newly-treated materials.
6/3/14 – Last truck of initial items of contaminated materials leaves for Belfor to be cleaned. (Total shipment included 302,944 books in 13,919 boxes on 264 pallets.) Remaining 138,000 contaminated items, along with shelving and equipment from caverns, removed to new storage facility to await disposition. Move to new facility completed on 6/20/14.
6/6/14 – Email received from Mellon Foundation informally announcing the success of the grant proposal.
6/18/14 – Mellon grant proposal letter and check arrives in Office of MU Chancellor. The grant award will enable remediation of the remaining 138,000 contaminated items set aside for deferred decision, as noted in the press release issued on 4/3/14.
6/29/14 – UMLD2 (Subtera caverns facility) vacated of all materials and equipment.
7/1/14 – Mellon grant funds begin being expended according to work plan.
7/9/14 – Receipt of Mellon grant announced. http://library.missouri.edu/announcements/2014/07/09/the-mu-libraries-receive-funding-from-andrew-w-mellon-foundation-for-recovery-of-materials-damaged-by-mold/
9/4/14 – Construction of modifications for new UMLD2 facility completed. These include the clean/dirty dividing wall, sprinkler installations, electrical and lighting modifications. Shelving for new UMLD2 leased facility is cleaned and installed in storage area, awaiting newly-treated materials from Belfor.
9/22/14 – First shipment of cleaned books returned from Belfor arrive at new UMLD2 facility.
9/30/14 – Work begins to secure second contract for mold remediation on remaining 138,000 contaminated items, now able to be treated with funding from the Mellon Foundation. These additional funds have made it unnecessary to destroy any materials other than duplicated items or books damaged beyond repair.
10/20/14 – The final shipment of items contaminated by mold in the Subtera caverns is sent for disposal. No content has been lost from any of the items destroyed in the process of dealing with the mold contamination. Instead, that content has remained available in one or more of the following ways: via duplicate copy (in print or online), via replacement from partner libraries (for government documents), or via purchase (when deemed necessary).
10/24-28/14 – Initial shipments of replacement volumes of government documents received from partner libraries, Washington University-St. Louis (Wash U) and Missouri State University (MSU). Total of seven pallets of boxes received from Wash U, and five pallets of boxes received from MSU, at new UMLD2 facility.
10/30/14 – Library Committee and Faculty Ad-hoc Committee members receive clarification on mold recovery. No materials, other than duplicate copies or items replaced with clean copies, have been destroyed. The discarded print materials included some 108K US Federal government documents currently being replaced by print copies from partner libraries; 47K duplicates of print copies held in other collections maintained by MU Libraries; and 33K duplicates of online journals designated by staff from the Health Sciences Libraries and the Law Library on the MU campus.
11/11/14 – Nine pallets of boxes containing replacement documents received from Wash U.
11/18/14 – Last of the initial June shipment of 303,000 decontaminated items returned from Belfor to the new storage facility. Processing and inspection of the items begins.
11/25/14 – Nine more pallets of boxes containing replacement documents received from Wash U.
12/2/14 – Jim Cogswell sends email via Faculty Council detailing the progress in handling the mold situation. (Text of email appears in FAQ page noted above.)
12/17/14 – Five pallets of boxes containing replacement documents received from MSU. Additional shipments of documents from both Wash U. and MSU libraries expected in January, 2015.
The mold bloom discovered in October, 2013, was the second major disaster to strike the MU Libraries in three years. In September, 2011, an arson attack on Ellis Library was a monumental disruption that lasted well into the following academic year. The mold outbreak has also been a major disruption, with current costs now approaching $1 million, and with added workloads severely straining a diminished library staff.
However, as devastating as the mold disaster has been, it is by no means the biggest challenge facing the MU Libraries. A far more serious issue is the continued low level of funding that has undermined the quality of MU Libraries collections, services and facilities for many years. Without additional funding, a secure, long-term storage solution for our physical book and journal collections cannot be implemented. Our best strategy to accomplish this goal is to build an addition to the primary UMLD storage facility – an addition planned during the original construction in 1997, but never executed. The first step toward realizing this option, estimated to cost at least $5 million, is to return the UMLD addition to the priority list for capital projects. We are actively working to implement this strategy.
Director of Libraries
January 20, 2015
To University of Missouri Faculty:
In October, MU Libraries staff members discovered signs of active mold growth on books and bound journals located in the second of our two offsite library storage facilities – the one located in caverns north of I-70 in Columbia. I immediately reported the issue to the Provost, the Chancellor and Campus Facilities. The campus Library Committee has also been consulted at length about the problem. Over the past several weeks, MU Libraries staff members have been working to identify the extent of the infestation and to begin addressing the problem with the help of a commercial remediation company.
We have learned that the entire collection of approximately 600,000 printed volumes in the storage facility is contaminated and must either be treated to eradicate the mold or be destroyed to ensure that contamination cannot spread to other collections. Treatment cost is currently estimated at about three dollars per volume, which means that the expense of treating all affected items could reach $1.8 million. The MU Libraries have built a self-insurance fund to deal with such disasters, but the amount currently in the fund is less than one-half this total estimated cost.
At present, we are identifying those materials that are most readily accessible to our users either online or via Interlibrary Loan so that we can focus our limited self-insurance funds on treating and retaining materials that are unique, of special value, or held by few libraries within the region or nationally. In addition to financial concerns, we are working under extreme time constraints. Affected materials must be dealt with quickly and removed to environmentally secure storage before warm weather and humidity returns. We are currently seeking new storage options, and we intend to move all treated materials before the end of June. For this reason, our review of contaminated materials has already commenced. In order to meet our June deadline, we will need to treat and relocate at least 15,000 volumes each week. We expect to remediate and to keep in our collections up to 300,000 volumes from the contaminated materials.
As you can imagine, MU librarians and staff are deeply concerned about this situation. While our first instinct is to preserve all of the mold-damaged materials, treating and retaining every volume is simply not possible under our current circumstances. This process is extremely painful for everyone, and we hope that we will receive the understanding and support of the entire MU community as we undertake the difficult decisions and tasks confronting us.
Director of Libraries
Posted via email to MU faculty on January 24, 2014