Multi-million dollar fix will address mold issue at UH library

A long awaited renovation project at the University of Hawaii's Hamilton Library is expected to provide much needed climate control.
A long awaited renovation project at the University of Hawaii's Hamilton Library is expected to provide much needed climate control.

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A long awaited renovation project at the University of Hawaii’s Hamilton Library is expected to provide much needed climate control. The project will also address a problem that has reared its ugly head numerous times… mold.

The $5.9 million renovation project is expected to take about eight months to compete. Although it will cause some inconveniences, students and staff are grateful the project has started.

Depending on where you’re standing at Hamilton Library, you’re either comfortable or absolutely not.

“It’s freezing in here,” UH graduate student Tiffany Tsai said.

“They’re replacing the air-handing equipment which is the equipment pulls the air in from outside the building and then redistributes it through the building,” UH Head of Public Services Gwen Sinclair said.

For several years, that redistribution has not been ideal, resulting in temperature fluctuations. Humidity can create problems in a library.

“We’ve had many mold outbreaks in the library and it only takes just a little bit of temperature fluctuation for the conditions for mold growth to occur,” Sinclair said. “Anytime there’s a mold outbreak we’re concerned about people’s health, which is why we would block off the area from access if we did have a mold outbreak.”

And library workers know all about mold.

“That certainly happened after the flood in 2004, the mold was this thick,” Sinclair said. “There have been cases where we’ve had to replace books because they had so much mold damage on them that the bindings were no longer in tact.”

Sinclair says because repairs will require turning off air conditioning in some areas. Some books will be enclosed in boxes in an area with dehumidifiers to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Students are planning ahead.

“I came today and picked up a dozen books because I knew that I might not have access to books in the next couple of months, over the summer, and I’m just looking forward and planning ahead,” Tsai said.

“For the next semester I really have to plan things ahead of time and encourage students to visit the collections while they can,” UH graduate student Mayumi Oiwa said.

“The impetus behind this program is to repair the equipment before it breaks down because when it breaks down then you have an emergency situation,” Sinclair said.

The project also includes repairs to ceiling and light fixtures.

The work will be done by floors and should be completed by November.

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