A third of the collection housed by the Columbus State Archives has received water damage from a broken pipe
On Sunday, Sept. 3, a roof drain above the Simon Schwob Memorial library on main campus burst causing water damage to a major portion of the CSU archives located on the third floor.
The water was discovered that morning by David Owings, an archivist for the department, who said that about a third of the records had been damaged. Owings and the rest of the archives staff are currently working alongside a professional restoration company to repair the damaged records, a process he said may take weeks.
These collections received the worst damage:
First Presbyterian Church Records (includes minute books dating back to the 1800s)
Metro Columbus Urban League Collection (documenting decades of local African American history)
AC Smith Collection (Smith was a local historian and collector whose collection has some of the most important documents for understanding Columbus and its history)
John Lupold Research Collection (similar to Smith, perhaps the preeminent local history scholar)
International Trombone Association (mostly vinyl recordings that got wet)
Columbus State University Records
The wettest material has been moved into an enclosed dehumidification chamber to draw out the moisture.
“We are taking this very seriously and will do everything we can to save what was damaged,” wrote Owings in a press release. “The vast majority of our collections are truly unique, not existing anywhere else; we have the only copy in existence.
Owings added that while many items in the archive may not have high monetary value, their "research value and contribution to scholarship cannot be understated."
The Archives serves as a repository for items documenting not only the history of CSU, but the city of Columbus as well as the broader Chattahoochee Valley area and houses over 5,000 linear feet of Archival material in a variety of formats including maps, architectural drawings, photographs, audio recordings, and video recordings.
In addition to the drain that failed in Archives, the one directly in front of the elevators also failed. Archival staff are worried that with the arrival of Hurricane Irma other third floor drains may fail. They have taken precautionary steps by covering collections with plastic in hopes of preventing additional damage.
University officials told Owings they plan to have all roof drains inspected and secured before the storm arrives this weekend.
More pictures of the damage are available on The Saber's Facebook page.
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