Isabel Cleary and Sarah Donaldson
DELAWARE, Ohio (WCMH) — A private college in Delaware County is prepared to welcome students back, but as they return to Ohio Wesleyan University, one part of campus will remain closed: the library.
The closure is due to mold, and right now, students have more questions than answers.
“I had heard that there were some issues last year with the library, and they were working on fixing it,” said Katie Lucas, a rising junior at Ohio Wesleyan.
Staff at the university have been dealing with heat and humidity issues in the Beeghly Library for years, university spokesperson Cole Hatcher said.
“We had brought in some industrial dehumidifiers and taken some other steps to try to control that environment,” Hatcher said. “But we weren’t getting it to where we needed it to be.”
Then, they found the mold.
“There is always a potential that someone has a mold allergy or something like that, but the real concern is not being able to control that environment, and then the health of the library collection,” Hatcher said.
What comes next, and how much it will cost, remain undecided.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us. There are about 276,200 books in that building,” Hatcher said.
Decisions will need to be made about the building and the books within — whether they will be cleaned, rebought or thrown away.
The university is also in the process of moving printers, computers and some desks to a 24/7 study area in what was the original Ohio Wesleyan library to make sure students have the resources they need during the school year.
Ohio Wesleyan University President Matthew P. vandenBerg sent out an email to students letting them know about the library closure. In it, he said:
“The latest surface and air-quality analyses inside Beeghly detected stubbornly high moisture levels, as well as common molds that are in lower concentrations than exist outdoors. Moreover, the facility’s roofing, HVAC, air handlers, electrical system, elevator, and steam line have exceeded their useful lifespans. We must be proactive when it comes to the health and safety of OWU students, staff, faculty, and visitors, which is our top priority. Therefore, after consulting carefully with numerous campus leaders, expert partners, and trustees, we have decided to close Beeghly Library for the 2023-2024 academic year.”
Matthew P. vandenBerg, Ohio Wesleyan University President