Thousands of undamaged books, from Harvey-flooded library, are in danger of being destroyed
HOUSTON - There is good news for patrons of a popular West Houston library location that's been closed since Hurricane Harvey.
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Repairs to the Kendall Library are set to begin, but a Houston city council member worries that thousands of books, that were undamaged by the storm, may not survive the renovation.
By any measure, District G council member Greg Travis is excited to get the library repaired. The site on Eldridge Parkway is next to Buffalo bayou, and held several feet worth of floodwaters, for weeks.
While the first floor was gutted, the second and third floors were high and dry, save for a few roof leaks.
Nearly four years later, it's like a time capsule from August 2017.
Newspapers reference the damage that Harvey would bring, as everything sits just as staff left it.
That includes tens of thousands of books and other materials that still sit on shelves. Councilmember Travis opens a book and takes a deep whiff. "You can smell that book; there's no mold in there; it's a perfectly good book," he says.
He's right. The air is stale but there are none of the tell-tale stenches of a moldy building.
Still, as work is set to begin on FEMA-funded renovations, all of the seemingly undamaged books will be thrown away, as the building is cleared out.
"If FEMA says you can't keep the books, if they're going to help reimburse for these costs, OK, you don't keep 'em," says Travis, "But you find a location for them. There's still value in these books."
Travis says he just learned about the books, but wonders why no one from the library appears to have made an effort to save them, over the last four years.
While the contractor is on a tight timeline to get the work started, Travis has been calling other libraries, trying to find takers.
Some, around the state, are interested but saving the books is going down to the wire.
"If I need to spend $5,000 out of my own pocket, which it seems I'm going to have to do, to move these out of here; if we can save a quarter of a million (dollars), or more, worth of books, let's do it," he says.
The Houston Public Library did not respond to emailed questions about what they may have done to save the books.
In the meantime, councilmember Travis hopes he may have a week, or more, to find a home for the books.