Hamilton Library Turns Page on Flood

July 19th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Cover Story, Features, Multimedia  |  3 Comments

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Hamilton Library took the brunt of the damage as debris-filled water pushed through the library, inundating the basement and first floor in about 45 minutes.

The physical damage from the flash flood that ravaged the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoaʻs Hamilton Library on Oct. 30, 2004 has been washed away.

Swelled by 10 inches of rain, Mānoa Stream overflowed its banks and raced through campus on that Saturday evening, damaging several buildings and sending as much as eight feet of water through the library. Halloween dawned to a frightful sight—230,000 rare maps and aerial photographs, more than a hundred computers, thousands of government documents and books, staff workrooms and Library Information Science Program facilities damaged by the torrent of muddy water.

When the newly renovated 57,000-square-foot ground floor officially reopens next month, a once mounting mess of mold and mud will appear clean and pristine.

Lynn Ann Davis, head of the library’s Preservation Department, vividly remembers the recovery efforts in the days, weeks and months following the flood. She credits her staff’s expertise and quick action in working to preserve the recovered materials.

Kyle Hamada, a conservation technician who has been with the library since 1996, was instrumental. He spent much of his time freezing the damaged items within days after the flood to prevent mold growth, as well as documenting, cleaning and drying the damaged maps.

It took about two and a half years to clean about 40 map drawers. Each drawer contained 10 to as many as 800 maps. About 54,000 maps were treated at the library and 44,000, outsourced to the mainland. Six years later, some maps remain frozen, waiting to be cleaned and restored.

The flood damage carried a hefty price tag—$37 million worth of damage to research materials and another $2 million worth of damage to computer equipment. In 2005 the campus received $21 million in flood relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A little more than $13 million was directed for repairs at Hamilton Library. State funding and private donations also helped with the two-phase recovery project.

  • Public open house Aug. 22
  • Library and Information Science Alumni Group tour Sept. 19, 2–5 p.m. Light refreshments; potluck contributions welcome.

For the first time in half a dozen years, the public will be admitted during an open house scheduled Aug. 22.

The library’s air-conditioning chiller plant and electric transformer, both displaced by the flood, were rebuilt, along with walls and offices on the ground floor.

The newly reconstructed ground floor will be the new home of the Government Documents and Maps collections and Collections Services, which include departments that process library materials, such as acquisitions, cataloging and serials.

The library is expanding its array of spatial information services to include online viewing of aerial photography and support for Geographic Information Systems teaching and research on campus through a new computer lab housed on the ground floor. The new services bring together maps, aerial photographs and GIS services under the name MAGIS.

An academic unit also moves back in. “After a six-year period of waiting, faculty, staff and students of the Library and Information Sciences Program are delighted to return home,” says Violet Harada, graduate chair. Their redesigned environment includes high quality facilities for administration, instruction, student networking and research.

“We wish to acknowledge the faculty and staff of the Department of Information and Computer Sciences, who graciously shared their POST Building offices and meeting spaces with us during this long period of reconstruction,” she adds.

Flood relief also enabled the Preservation Department to expand its capacity. The department houses the only lab for the conservation of paper and books in Hawaiʻi and the American Pacific. It includes the preservation bindery, digital and microfilming, book conservation, paper conservation treatment and integrated pest management programs.

Integrated pest management counters preventable damage from insects and mold using state-of-the-art capabilities found only at UH Mānoa. Davis’s department constantly updates its disaster plan to be ready for the damage it can’t prevent. Trained in recovery methods, the department has helped rescue collections from floods and leaks caused by construction work.

Partnering with Western States and Territories Preservation Assistance Service, the library helps to preserve cultural resources in libraries and archives throughout the Western United States and Pacific territories. Davis has been instrumental in assisting other Hawaiʻi and the Pacific libraries in disaster preparedness and recovery efforts, including preservation of library and archive materials following the 2009 tsunami in American Samoa.

Prevention played a part in the Hamilton renovation. The sunken, landscaped area around the Hamilton’s mauka corner is no longer. During the flood, it turned into a moat; windows designed to admit light into the ground floor allowed the water to pour in instead.

The library’s main flood mitigation measure was to cover the moat. Its outer walls were sealed both internally and externally, and solid slab of concrete was added as a roof. A landscaped berm protects the first floor, now at ground level on the mauka end of the building, to prevent future flooding. Now enclosed, the former moat has allowed expansion of the library’s ground floor and addition of new emergency exits and an upgraded water-drainage system.

The recovery has created another kind of flood—plans for additional improvements. The next project on the drawing board involves redesigning the first floor as a creative learning and information commons.


To Preserve and Protect

In this 4-minute video, Preservation Department Head Lynn Davis explains how she and her staff work to recover maps damaged in the 2004 flood.

NOTE: If you experience problems with the video play back, try changing the setting in the bottom bar (that appears after you press play) from 360p to 480p. This is a problem on the YouTube side that has been reported. We apologize for the inconvenience.


What’s new at UH libraries across the state

Mālamalama Online canvassed libraries throughout the UH System about new and interesting features or services. Select a library below for highlights.

Edwin H. Mookini Library, UH Hilo/Hawaiʻi Community College
Beginning fall 2010, the library will offer Multi-Search, a tool that allows users to search multiple journal article databases at once. The library also offers an extensive open-stacks Hawaiian Collection and serves clients from community college through PhD programs.

Honolulu Community College Library
A part of the state’s Art in Public Places program, the library features 29 artworks, from photographs and mixed media to watercolor and stoneware, on loan from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. Highlights include Peggy Hopper’s mural Awakea and Mamoru Sato’s Woodscape.

Lama Library, Kapiʻolani Community College
The library continually broadcasts CNN (and the occasional UH game or NBA final) on the first-floor big screen TV. A hub of activity on campus, it has more than 90 desktop computers and 50 laptops for check out and features rotating art and book displays.

New online resources include Films on Demand streaming video of educational films and A to Z Maps Online featuring more than 4,000 historical and current political, physical and geographic maps.

Kauaʻi Community College Library
The library site offers online tutorials to help students locate books, find and evaluate Internet information and develop research skills.

Leeward Community College Library
The library is revamping its website and is on Twitter and Flickr. It recently expanded online resources with Proquest Newspapers for access to news media and Credo Reference for information from book-type reference works.

Leeward also boasts a strong library instruction program to help students learn how to use available resources and puts out power strips so student can use their laptops in the library.

UH Maui College Library
Clients wade into the library, from the sand-colored entrance to the bright blue flooring through the building. Three new study rooms are adding 42-inch flat panel televisions with Blu-ray disc player and computer hookup.

The library hosts a YouTube channel for student-made videos and posts photos on Flickr in addition to maintaining a news blog and Twitter accounts.

Windward Community College Library
With a new library under construction (follow the blog), Windward librarians have been focusing on online resources—creating dynamic research, course and topic guides using a platform called LibGuides, and interlinking resources such as Credo Reference and ebrary. Faculty and staff also can use Films on Demand to view streaming educational videos.

The library is also on Twitter and Facebook.

UH West Oʻahu Library
The library uses Twitter to provide patrons with real-time announcements regarding library services and activities. Using LibraryThing, patrons can browse new books available at the library, viewing book covers and reading short synopses online.

Hamilton Library, UH Mānoa
The newly re-furbished front lobby has been renamed the William Kwai Fong Yap Room for the man who petitioned the state legislature to turn the College of Hawaiʻi into the University of Hawaiʻi. Yap’s portrait hangs on the first pillar, and the Regents’ Medal presented posthumously to the family is on display along with some other memorabilia.

In another upgrade, the library now offers two new presentation rooms in the SciTech Commons area. Equipped with a computer, LCD projector and worktable, the room can be reserved by students who want to rehearse presentations.

Sinclair Library, UH Mānoa
Digitized versions of many of the library’s older videos are now available through the Sinclair Library Video Reformatting Project. For more than a year, librarians have been digitizing the older videos stored on U-Matic, Beta and VHS tapes, particularly those in the Hawaiian and Pacific collections. Available videos are listed in the Voyager catalog; a username and password are required to watch the streaming version.

Institute for Astronomy Library, UH Mānoa
The library maintains a blog as well as offering RSS feed to share news and new books.

Health Sciences Library, UH Mānoa
The library maintains a blog with news about the library and from the world of medicine and offers an RSS feed for library news. Resources available to students and faculty include Primal Pictures, a 3-D anatomy resource.

William S. Richardson School of Law Library, UH Mānoa
Murals include 70-foot three-part piece painted by Frank M. Moore in 1919 for the owner the Blaisdell Hotel on Fort Street and Hawaiians at a Lūʻau by Mataumu Toelupe Alisa, ca. 1977.

Sunset Reference Center, UH Mānoa
With more than 10,000 items, the School of Travel Industry Management library has the largest collection of specialized research material on tourism in Hawaiʻi.


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  1. Meed Wetterau) Barnett '73 says:

    July 25th, 2010at 8:14 am(#)

    Wow, I had had no idea this terrible flood had happened. I loved studying at Hamilton Library. It is wonderful that so many of the damaged library contents have been restored. Excellent quick thinking. I live in southern New Jersey now, but will be celebrating vicariously when you have that open house in August! Meed Barnett, formerly Gretchen Wetterau, MA in Teaching English as a Second Language, ’73

  2. Bill McCloy says:

    August 8th, 2010at 5:02 pm(#)

    What a great video (and what a Herculean effort)! I well remember hearing of the flood from librarian colleagues at UH-Manoa. What a tragedy, but also what a treasure you have now to not only preserve Hawaii’s heritage but also expertise to share with the rest of the state and the Pacific Islands. Aloha! Bill McCloy, ’67 (Chinese Language)

  3. Hamilton Library Turns Page on Flood says:

    September 11th, 2010at 3:18 pm(#)

    [...] To Preserve and Protect [...]