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Sprinkler leak affects hundreds of books in Firestone Library

Several hundred books on Firestone Library’s basement A floor suffered a watery fate Monday afternoon after a sprinkler flooded the library’s ground level Trustee Reading Room.

Some books will require conservation work because of the damage.


Water accumulated in the Trustee Reading Room and flooded sections of A floor, according to Library Communications Manager Barbara Valenza.

Richard Anderson GS ’18 filmed a video of the leakage from the A floor. According to the video, Firestone’s small trash and recycling cans were placed in most aisles to catch water that was pouring from the ceiling. But the tactic wasn’t adequate and large pools of water accumulated. 

Anderson said he was writing on the A floor while this incident occurred. A part-time employee at Firestone himself, Anderson said he was struck by the speed with which other University employees responded to the accident.

“In my time at Princeton I saw several emergencies of varying degrees of severity, and it always strikes me how many employees put in hard work to make sure that the campus can continue to function,” Anderson said.


Many of the books affected on the A level simply dried overnight, according to Valenza.

“Several hundred books were damp but dried overnight. About 130 books will require additional drying,” Valenza said. “Only a handful were very wet and will need conservation work. None of the books were rare or of significant replacement value.”

According to Valenza, little damage occurred in the Trustee Reading Room, an area that has not yet been renovated.

“The Trustee Reading Room was scheduled to open towards the end of January and is still on schedule to meet that opening date. In the meantime, books in the affected area have been moved and are still accessible,” Valenza explained.

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Director of Library Finance and Administration Jeff Rowlands said he was grateful for staff’s diligent response after the incident.   

“A number of staff were here until late last night sorting and inspecting the books. Their dedication and support is greatly appreciated,” Rowlands said.

The University Office of Communications did not respond to request for comment from The Daily Princetonian