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Ohio Wesleyan University closes main library for upcoming school year because of mold

The exterior of Beeghly Library at Ohio Wesleyan University
Courtesy of Ohio Wesleyan University
Ohio Wesleyan University Beeghly Library

Ohio Wesleyan University is closing its main library for the upcoming academic year because of mold and to address temperature, humidity and other issues with the 60-year-old building.

In a letter to the campus community, Ohio Wesleyan President Matthew vandenBerg said Beeghly Library was undergoing repair and mitigation efforts because of an outbreak of mold spores in all of the library's collections.

"I learned that OWU’s aggressive interventions have not yielded a satisfactory improvement in the building’s condition, and there is no solution that will enable it to reopen in time for the fall semester," vandenBerg wrote.

The university located in Delaware, Ohio has an enrollment of 1,500 students.

For now, rhe library's core services will move to the Hobson Science Library, Ohio Wesleyan Director of Media and Community Relations Cole Hatcher said. All physical collections in the closed library will remain unavailable for the foreseeable future and the university plans to rely heavily on lending libraries.

"We're going to do everything that we can do to make sure that it doesn't hinder students. We do have a second library. It has traditionally been our science library, but our main circulation desk will be moved there," Hatcher said.

The letter said the university is now taking several steps to minimize the disruption to students when they arrive on campus later this month. The university is finalizing and will soon share plans for relocating media services, the computer lab and study spaces.

Hatcher said the mold is typically the same found outdoors, but the library hasn't handled the heat and humidity well leading mold levels that are usually regulated by internal systems to grow and impact the library's collections. He said this wouldn't impact other non-library buildings as much.

"Mold can always impact people with allergies or compromised immune systems, but it's really an issue of this affecting the health of our collections," he said.

Before making this decision, Hatcher and vandenBerg said the university did HVAC work and used industrial dehumidifiers to try to solve the problem.

The letter said the facility’s roofing, HVAC, air handlers, electrical system, elevator and steam line have all exceeded their useful lifespans.

Hatcher said the university will now be looking at several options to solve this issue. He didn't rule out the university building a new library or the university finding a solution and opening the library back up for the next academic year.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.