Staff members keep Putnam County Library open as mold remediation begins

Mold was discovered above the children's room and near the front desk in December, prompting a temporary closure.

Ben Nandy

Jan 30, 2024, 11:12 PM

Updated 167 days ago


Staff members at the Desmond-Fish Public Library are managing to keep the library open, even as mold remediation begins.
Mold was discovered above the children's room and near the front desk in December, prompting a temporary closure.
In the weeks since the discovery, staff have kept the children's room and front desk areas closed off.
They have reopened other areas that were deemed safe following air tests.
They were forced to cancel several children's and adult programs, but not all, since they had the space downstairs.
"Since we have a very large program room downstairs, it was a no-brainer to move programs down there," library director Dede Farabaugh told News 12.
The staff have experience having to rearrange and relocate programs: two past floods that damaged the downstairs program room, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once they assessed the mold problem, they learned they have to clean the ductwork which may have contributed to the mold's growth, Farabaugh said.
Farabaugh's staff has always tried to be up-front with patrons about the building's maintenance issues and difficult decisions to limit children's activities.
"No one's been that upset about it in that sense, or [us] having to talk anyone off the ledge," she said. "It's more that people are just like, 'Well when are the programs going to start again?'"
News 12 asked several families if they were concerned about the mold.
"Nope," Cassie Drymala, a library regular along with her son and daughter, said. "Not as long as they take care of everything and clean it up, I'm confident they'll make it safe, hopefully, for the kids. As you see, [if] they've closed it to clean it up, they're doing the right thing."
The mold removal and the ductwork cleaning could end up costing tens of thousands of dollars.
Farabaugh said the library is drawing from its endowment to cover it.
Desmond-Fish Library is funded 50% through an an endowment established by the library's founders in 1980.
The other 50% comes from taxpayers.
Farabaugh hopes for the mold remediation to be completed by Valentine's Day, and is prepared for sudden, temporary library closures as the work continues.

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