Mold damages Mizzou library books

Some of the damaged books were published before the civil war.

Mizzou library administrators need to decide what to do with about 600,000 books damaged by mold at an off-campus storage site.

Ellis Library staff members found the problem in October at Subtera, an underground storage site in North Columbia.

Some of the damaged books were published before the civil war.

Ellis Library administrators said less than half of the damaged books will be saved because it would cost about $3 per volume to remove the mold. They estimate the total amount of damage at about $1.8 million. The goal is to save books published before 1870.

MU Spokesman Christian Basi said, â??Some of them are academic journals that have studies in them from many years ago to the present. Others are reference books that have been used for decades.â??

The library has stored books off-campus for 6 years because the main library ran out of space. Basi said the books are stored off-campus because Ellis Library is underfunded compared to other libraries its size. The books that survive the mold will be stored in another off-campus facility, not Subtera.

Basi said, â??If we can either get online access to many of those books, and we believe we can, or if we can access those books through an interlibrary loan, itâ??s more likely that those volumes will be the ones disposed of.â??

A health and safety report shows the moldy books were not a public health danger. Mizzou officials are taking bids for the clean-up process and do not know how many books can be saved, how much the clean-up will cost and when they will finish the job.

Mizzouâ??s Ellis Library had a preservation officer who would have helped prevent mold problems by monitoring the collections.

They cut that position several years ago because of budget reasons.

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