Iowa’s Libraries and Museums Assess Flood Damage

Iowa’s Libraries and Museums Assess Flood Damage

Freelance writer Dana Schmidt, of Ames, Iowa (you may remember her as a former Family Tree Magazine staffer), sent us this report about how the recent recording-setting floods have impacted libraries in her state: Now that it’s been a couple weeks since rivers flooded parts of Iowa, we’re beginning to...

Freelance writer Dana Schmidt, of Ames, Iowa (you may remember her as a former Family Tree Magazine staffer), sent us this report about how the recent recording-setting floods have impacted libraries in her state:

Now that it’s been a couple weeks since rivers flooded parts of Iowa, we’re beginning to get a clearer picture of how devastating damages are in some libraries, and how other libraries escaped the worst.

In hard-hit Cedar Rapids, where the Cedar River crested at about 31 feet—nearly 20 feet over flood stage, beating the former high set in June 1851—nearly 5 feet of water submerged theground floor of the Cedar Rapids Public Library. According to a State Library of Iowa report, floodwaters rose three bookshelves high and humid conditions have contributed to the loss of the library’s entire adult book collection. The Cedar Rapids Gazette also reports magazines, journals and reference books, which were housed on the ground floor, are likely ruined, and the library may remain closed for a year.

The Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids also suffered. Ten feet of water surrounded the building and rose to the ceiling inside. According to the state library, about 20 percent of the museum’s artifacts were removed before the flood, but little of the remaining collection will be salvageable. Museum staff continues to update the Web site with recover news.

Inside Iowa’s New Hartford Public Library (near Waterloo), 18 inches of water covered the floor; it’s expected the building will need to be gutted. The library lost 82 percent of its collection.

In Iowa City, the University of Iowa’s Main Library managed to keep its collection dry, despite basement flooding. Cedar Rapids’ African-American Museum also was affected, but more than 90 percent of its collection is expected to survive. The museum’s online flood timeline tells about the museum’s collection preservation efforts.

Do you live in Iowa? click Comments (below) to tell us what you saw.

Related Products

4 Comments

Leave a Reply

ALL COMMENTS

  1. I live about 40 miles from the University of Iowa (former employee, as well) and a son and his family live in Cedar Rapids. The footage of the flooding and photos after just make you sick at heart. The CR library had financial problems anyway, and this naturally compounds that. Besides the University library, at least 19 other buildings and facilities on campus were damaged, with the damage estimates now at over $230 million. Most of the fine arts and music facilities are included in that. It’s just a tragedy, and a fine example of how we can never be sure that things will always be be there. People are working their hardest to salvage what they can, but I’m afraid much of what will remain will be memories of the past.

  2. Considering the devastating loss of genealogical materials, I would hope that a take-away from this experience is that more groups will invest in having their collections digitized, if for no other reason than preserving them in some form. My heart goes out to all those who mourn the loss of our heritage, and especially those who are working to recover whatever they can.