Fairfield Woods library to shut down for mold cleanup

Mold is shutting down the Fairfield Woods Branch Library.

The library, one of the busiest branch libraries in the state, will close Monday, and it is scheduled to remain closed through Friday to allow for mold remediation work in the building's basement. It is expected to reopen Saturday, Nov. 23.

The town recently replaced the library's flat roof, which had been plagued by leaks, and in the aftermath of the project discovered mold within lower portions of sheetrock walls in the mechanical/furnace room. After discovering the mold problem Nov. 4, access to the area was restricted.

Cost of the cleanup isn't known at this point, but the expense is expected to be covered in the current Department of Public Works operating budget.

Nancy Coriaty, deputy librarian for the branch, said library officials aim to make things as easy as possible for the branch's patrons during the closure.

Anyone with library materials due to be returned during the closure can bring them to the main library downtown at 1080 Old Post Road, Coriaty said. "It they can't make it, for whatever reason, we will certainly grace the fines," she said.

The branch library book drop-off will be sealed shut during the remediation. "We are not allowed in the library as of Monday," Coriaty said, though she added that the mold problem does not affect the library's first-floor patron area.

Fairfield Woods employees will work at the main library while the branch is closed.

According to information provided by the town, air testing for mold was conducted on July 30, prior to the roof replacement and results showed all areas of the building within the "Clean Building" category, including the mechanical/furnace room.

When the walls in the mechanical room were opened and visible mold growth seen, access to the area was limited and placed under negative pressure. The mold was discovered by ServPro of Bridgeport, which was hired to remove materials from the mechanical room following completion of the roof replacement.

"This finding changed the scope of the work that needed to occur and Hygenix was hired to served as project manager," according to a statement from First Selectman Michael Tetreau. The remediation work is being done by AAIS.

There were some older periodicals that were stored in a room adjacent to the mechanical room and most of those items will be discarded. Any saved items will be cleaned during the remediation.

In addition to the remediation work, the report on the mold testing from Hygenix recommends replacing carpeted surfaces with tile, providing ventilation to the emergency access vestibule, improving fresh air intake to the HVAC system, providing tempered air and dehumidification to all areas of the basement and better housekeeping in all areas.

"The Public Works Department is taking the proper steps to resolve this issue quickly and in a way that best protects the library staff and members of the public," town Health Director Sands Cleary said.

The Board of Selectmen toured the branch library in January 2012, as the library board considered several options for possible building expansion.

At that time, Coriaty told the selectmen that whole stacks of books in the library's mezzanine had been lost to mold, because of leaks, and a good part of the antique book collection also had suffered water damage.

The library's ground floor is under the water table, and there are two sump pumps in place to prevent flooding in the basement area, which houses several of the town's computer servers.

The library's will be open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. before shutting down for the week.

For more information or view the Hygenix reports, visit www.fairfieldpubliclibrary.org or www.fairfieldct.org.

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