Many Clearwater residents expressed concern and curiosity over the condition of the Main Library after its closure in early September. Rumors abounded as to the cause and extent of the damage. Even staff employees in other libraries weren’t sure of what happened.
Facts had to be collected from multiple departments, according to Joelle Castelli, the city’s Communications Director. After three weeks short videos were posted on TikTok by SERVPRO of Largo, but how many people viewed it is questionable.
Finally, an official statement was issued today:
At approximately noon on Wednesday, Sept. 6, a connection in the fire sprinkler pipe failed causing a significant amount of water to flow into the Clearwater Main Library from the third-floor ceiling of the library’s south end. The Clearwater Fire Department was dispatched and arrived within minutes and immediately worked to ensure the safety of staff and patrons, removing them from the building. Fire and city maintenance
personnel then worked to secure the building and turn off the building’s electrical system and the fire suppression system, which stopped the flow of water.
Thousands of gallons of water flowed out of the sprinkler system pipe and
primarily affected the third floor but water flowed down to the second and
first floors causing damage there to a lesser extent.
The city immediately started working with a licensed mitigation team, SERVPRO of Largo, to bring in drying equipment and to minimize the damage to the library’s books, technology and items in collections. Windows on the second and third floors were removed to accommodate the drying equipment and it took eight days to bring the building’s moisture content back to within a normal range.
Approximately 10,000 books and library materials were removed to an off-site facility for drying, inspection and cleaning. Staff believes the majority of these will be salvaged. The two visiting art exhibits that were on display on the first floor were unaffected and the artwork has been removed from the building.
Damage to the building is estimated to be approximately $5 million and has been submitted to the city’s insurance carrier. Although a thorough
investigation into the cause of the incident is still being completed, the
incident appears to be accidental in nature.
Currently, the building’s elevators, electrical, HVAC and fire
suppression systems are in the process of assessments and repairs. The air conditioning systems, including the duct work, was impacted by the water and they are currently being cleaned and preventive microbial growth treatment is being conducted. The affected drywall has been removed and new drywall is being
The affected areas will also have new paint and the carpets and
tiles will be cleaned. The completion of the remediation will include an air
quality and environmentalist assessment to ensure the building’s
air quality is within safe levels.
The library building, which originally opened in May of 2004, is expected to re-open in the beginning of November. Staff from the Main Library have been working at other library locations during this closure.
For more information about the Clearwater Library system, visit their website at
or the Clearwater Public Library System on Facebook: www.facebook.com/clearwaterlib
Information and photos courtesy of the City of Clearwater