TEMPLE TERRACE — Armand Ternak dubbed it the “perfect storm.”
An unusual combination of unforeseen circumstances created an unsightly scene recently in some portions of the Temple Terrace Public Library.
Torrential rains throughout the summer months triggered the buildup of an inordinate amount of rust in the facility’s air conditioning system, which, in turn, caused the dampers to “freeze” in an open position.
As a consequence, the building’s higher than usual moisture content lead to an accumulation of white mold on about 3,000 of the library’s books, all of which had to be destroyed.
According to Ternak, the library’s director, all were old books rebound with a unique type of plastic that readily absorbs mold.
Most books, he said, were rarely read and likely won’t be missed, but those that were classics need to be replaced.
“Many, many libraries in hot, moist climates have problems with keeping the humidity at the perfect 50 percent level, including a couple in Tampa,” Ternak said.
Fortunately the air conditioner’s dampers have been replaced and the system overhauled to help keep the moisture at bay. But the cost to replenish the empty bookshelves comes at a much higher price – about $40,000 in Ternak’s estimation.
Alerted to the issue, the Friends of the Temple Terrace Library board of directors recently approved a $15,000 grant to help limit that expense.
“We’re glad to do it,” said Friends of the Temple Terrace Library President Daniel Morton. “Friends has money put away for emergencies and capital needs and we saw this as an emergency.”
The contribution is in addition to the Friends’ annual $16,000 donation to help fund book purchases, programs for children and teens, and staff seminars.
Friends’ treasurer Ted Grevencamp applauds the organization’s long-held philosophy of saving a portion of its annual revenues for hard-to-predict future needs.
“Had they not done so we would still have had the mold problem but we would not have had such a ready ability to help replace the loss,” he said.
The Temple Terrace Woman’s Club also contributed $1,000 toward the book replacement effort.
“The Woman’s Club started the library and we need to keep it going,” said president Maryrose Owens.
James Chambers, director of Temple Terrace’s Leisure Services Department, who oversees the library as part of his responsibilities, said he reveres how the community comes together whenever there is a need.
“We so much appreciate their help,” he said.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.