Art

Here's How Many Books Were Destroyed in the Burton Barr Library Flood

Sign posted at the entrance to the Burton Barr Central Library parking lot following the storm.
Sign posted at the entrance to the Burton Barr Central Library parking lot following the storm. Lynn Trimble
The total number of books damaged in the recent storm that damaged Burton Barr Central Library is 7,212, according to a July 21 update issued by Lee Franklin, the community relations manager for Phoenix Public Library.

The Central Phoenix literary hub has been the flagship library of the city's 17-branch system since 1995. Burton Barr's overall collection contains just over a half-million titles. Most of the damaged books were part of the reference section.

Designed by Phoenix architect Will Bruder, Burton Barr has been closed since Saturday, July 15, when the building was damaged during a monsoon. Initial reports indicated that a microburst caused damage in the building’s upper roof, resulting in a fire sprinkler leak that flooded each of the library’s five floors.

click to enlarge A portion of the Burton Barr Central Library after it sustained storm damage on July 15. - BURTON BARR CENTRAL LIBRARY
A portion of the Burton Barr Central Library after it sustained storm damage on July 15.
Burton Barr Central Library
“Assessment to the cause of the water leak and damage cost to the building is ongoing,” Franklin says in the release.

Representatives from the Illinois-based engineering consulting firm Wiss, Janey, and Elstner Associates have been on-site since last Wednesday.

The firm's engineers and architects are investigating the original incident, as well as analyzing construction, design, and maintenance issues. It’s likely their evaluation and design services will take several weeks.

Burton Barr Central Library staff were all temporarily reassigned to different branches as of Wednesday, and the library is rescheduling the hundreds of library events and programs affected by the indefinite closure.

Crews are continuing to remove, document, protect, and relocate books from Burton Barr Central Library. Ongoing renovation efforts include removing flooring, drywall, and wood paneling throughout the site.

The Phoenix Fire Department is no longer on-site, since the focus has shifted from incident management to construction management.

Burton Barr Central Library continues to refer patrons to the other 16 libraries in the Phoenix Public Library system.

Patrons interested in volunteering or making donations to assist Burton Barr Central Library with storm recovery efforts can consult the Phoenix Public Library website.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble