Monday, January 16, 2006

Yale Steam Leak Damages Rare Cambodian Newspapers

A steam leak at Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library in New Haven, Connecticut, January 7 damaged more than 3,000 books and a valuable collection of Cambodian newspapers that document the nation's genocide during the 1970s.

Although Matt Glickman, evening supervisor at Cross Campus Library, said in the January 10 Yale Daily News that the books were relatively low-value new titles that had not yet entered circulation, library personnel expressed concern over the irreplaceable items in the Cambodian collection, which includes the last known copies of newspapers surviving the Khmer Rouge's censorship campaign. University Librarian Alice Prochaska said the newspapers had not yet been microfilmed

The Daily News reported January 12 that officials were still assessing the damage. The soaked volumes have been shipped to a freeze-drying facility, but it will be six to eight weeks before it's known how many can be salvaged.

The leak occurred when a valve failed in the basement of Trumbull College, located across from the library. Officials said that quick mobilization by library staff prevented the situation from being even worse: Within hours, dozens of emergency workers, librarians, and their families waded through 130°F water to rescue books.

Although a staffing area is expected to be closed for about two weeks, officials said students will likely experience no disruption in library services.

Posted January 13, 2006.

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