While getting my 22-month-old daughter dressed after her bath last night, my wife directed my attention to the TV. The evening news was showing the first pictures taken from the inside of the Cedar Rapids Public Library after last weekend’s record smashing flood.

I had wondered and worried aloud about the status of the library and its contents repeatedly during the flooding, to a point that my wife had to mock me for being so focused on one part of the extensive destruction. But for days as the waters rose, the general public knew nothing of what steps were (or weren’t) taken to protect the library. Around the time the water was cresting, an interview with the library’s interim director came out, saying that they had used volunteers and the final hours before evacuation to move books on the 1st floor up to higher shelves. My wife and I were shocked that they didn’t just move as much as they could up to the second floor. There’s an elevator to make such a task easier, and lots and lots of room up there for materials. They were busy moving things out of the basement too, but there was never a call for volunteers on TV or radio or city websites or anything. We had no idea they didn’t have the manpower (or brainpower) needed to move things to the 2nd floor.

So I took my daughter to the computer and we looked at the pictures on the Gazette website.

Her response to the above photo was, “Books…oh no…” She knew something bad had happened to the books. Other photos like the one at the top of this post caused her to screw up her face in concern and confusion as well. We’ve spent hours at the library with her, and she easily recognized her favorite indoor place to visit.

Plans for a major renovation are currently on hold (although I suspect they’ll be getting new carpet, furniture, and computers now that they have none), and it’s possible that a tax levy will be utilized. I imagine a lot of citizens will be even more upset about the poor preparation for the flood (like not moving anything upstairs) if they’re asked to help pay for it.

Another one of many sad stories here in Cedar Rapids right now. This one just happens to hit a little closer to home for us than most.

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