Campus Life

Last Tile ceremony marked library's full recovery

A long journey of restoration finally came to a conclusion for the University of Lethbridge Library on December 19, 2013.

The ceremonial 'Last Tile' is placed as the University Library celebrates the completion of recent restoration work on Level 9.

More than six months since the June 5, 2013 flood event that saw the library among the facilities damaged by a broken water main, and after countless hours of restoration work, Level 9 in the library was reopened with a number of significant improvements included in the restoration.

A “Last Tile” ceremony was held to mark the symbolic completion of the restoration work and honour the efforts of all those who assisted with the project.

“With the force and volume (approximately 11,000 litres) of water that infiltrated the building interior, this incident has been nicknamed the U of L Tsunami," says Anne Baxter, director, Risk and Safety Services. “The incident was immediately reported to the University's insurer, CURIE, who promptly appointed restoration contractors to respond to the damages and who continue to work closely with the University in resolving this matter.”

The misfortune of that June day was seized upon by the library as an opportunity to reconfigure the spaces on Level 9. A modified layout of the stacks now provides room for collections to grow and additional quiet study spaces for patrons.

“This took a tremendous team effort, from University staff to consultants to suppliers to contractors, in order to be ready for start of the Fall semester," says Brad Robinson, associate executive director, Project Management Office. "The collective expertise of the team solved numerous complex and unique problems associated with damaged building systems caused by the flood waters. In addition, many people adjusted personal and work schedules in order to assist and keep restoration efforts moving forward, allowing us to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

There was no small amount of effort in realizing the completion of this work. Library administration carefully coordinated with Facilities, which directed the activities of the various contractors and staff performing the restoration work.

“That the Library is observably back to its pre-flood state is a testament to the hard work and dedication of many Library, Facilities, Caretaking, IT, Security and Risk and Safety Services staff members, as well as our many contractors, including RGB Construction, Belfor Property Restoration and Onside Restoration," says Dr. Christopher Nicol, University Librarian. "Although we were not at our best cosmetically in the library, we were able to offer all major services throughout the facility on the first day of the Fall 2013 semester. This took a huge amount of physical work, not to mention the logistical challenge of relocating close to 200,000 volumes from the library collection - twice.

Without coordination, goodwill, and hard work by all parties, the library would not have been restored as quickly as it was.

With the placement of that last carpet tile, the library looks forward to the days ahead and hopes to see its patrons once again utilizing the space to its full capacity.