One of the windows at the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor where dust from masonry work entered the building, resulting in an unexpected closure. ISLANDER PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

Library scrambles after cloud of dust

BAR HARBOR — Heading into a second week of the Jesup Memorial Library being closed due to unexpected dust from an exterior masonry project, library Director Ruth Eveland says it’s breaking her heart.

She hopes to know by Monday, Jan. 30, when the library can reopen. The Jesup has received estimates from several companies for the professional cleaning that will be needed before they can reopen.

“We’ve cleaned and cleaned,” Eveland said, “and we weren’t able to stay ahead of it.”

They have sent a sample of the dust away for testing, but because it comes from old mortar, they know it contains lime, which is an irritant to eyes, noses, throats and lungs. There is no asbestos or lead or mold.

Meanwhile, the library staff is busy finding alternative venues for many library programs, operating services including interlibrary loan from the Secondhand Prose store next door and planning a reopening party.

In the seven years Eveland has been director of the Jesup Memorial Library, she has had to close the library only twice. Each of those was for only a single day due to weather.

The fine, white dust worked its way into the building through three windows and a door in the wall that’s being repointed, which is the one on the north side of the periodical room. The project is part of the library’s current capital campaign. It originally was scheduled with the larger project of building a new addition, but was moved up. Work began Jan. 3, and Eveland said dust started coming in that day. The decision to close was made Jan. 14.

When the dust was first noticed, library staff and masonry contractors tried taping plastic sheeting over the windows and door.

The pervasive dust has reached so much of the library that every area except the attic needs professional cleaning.

“We’re aware that the longer this goes on, the more curious and concerned people will be,” library Development Director Mel Rice said. “We also hate the fact that we’re not able to offer all our usual services to the town and the people. Last January, more than 4,000 people used the library, so we know this closure is having a big impact.”

Eveland said library staff will provide updates as more information becomes available.

“We are a library, after all,” she said with a grin. “We’re all about providing access to information!”

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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