Library fourth floor reading room closed due to water leak


Uday Lomada

A sign sits on the doors outside of the fourth floor reading room. After an evaluation on Tuesday, faculty and contractors have deemed the room safe for people to be in.

Uday Lomada, Managing Editor

The Kleymeyer Hall of Presidents on the fourth floor of David L. Rice library closed after a water leak was discovered in the ceiling and a patch of the ceiling came down. 

Marna Hostetler, director of library services, said staff discovered the leak the last weekend of February and closed the room the same day.

“Water was coming in through one of the light fixtures in that room,” Hostetler said. “The quick thinking staff that was here that evening got the portrait of Dr. Bennett covered and got a little bin underneath the leak. A part of the ceiling came down after the leak and that landed on an Ottoman but the Ottoman is fine.”

Susan Sauls, director of University Art Collections, said the portrait of former president Linda L. M. Bennett showed no signs of damage and has been moved from the Hall of Presidents until the leak is repaired. 

“The paintings (of the presidents) are relatively new and oil paintings are usually a little more hearty. If it were on paper, moisture would be more of an issue,” Sauls said. “The length of time that the painting was near the leak, it has no damage at all.”

Portraits of the first two presidents, David L. Rice and Ray Hoops, and a model of Centennial Grade School, the first location of USI (then known as Indiana State University – Evansville), are also in the room on the other side of the leak and will remain in the room unless conditions worsen.

According to Miles Mann, associate director of Facility Operations and Planning, the leak has taken longer than expected to repair.

A patch of the ceiling came off due to water damage. The ceiling is expected to be fixed as soon as possible. (Photo by Uday Lomada)

“We think we’ve fixed the roof,” Mann said. “We have all sorts of rain (Tuesday), heavy rain, wind changes. So if it doesn’t leak today, we will know that things have been fixed because we’ve tried to get this thing repaired.”

Contractors were brought in Tuesday to evaluate the damage and what repairs were necessary in the reading room. Mann said the main damage is on the ceiling and the carpet has been minimally damaged.

“You’ve got a patch that they will replace on the ceiling,” Mann said. “After that, they will scrape and take off any loose textured parts of the ceiling and replace that textured part, then paint over a three by 30 foot section.”

“Our custodians will get in to clean (the carpet) as soon as they can one of these nights this week,” Mann said. 

Initially, the room was going to be closed until repairs were made between Spring Commencement on May 6 and the start of Summer I classes on May 16. After evaluation on Tuesday, Mann said the room could open again soon.

“We notified administrators of the library that there’s no reason the room can’t be opened until we do the repairs,” Mann said. “As soon as they can get in there, we will want the contractors to make the repairs. That might be two weeks from now.”

There have been concerns of mold in the carpet and ceiling, but Mann said they’ve treated the carpet and had none to report in the Tuesday evaluation. If there is any report of mold in the future, Mann said the room would be closed and the problem corrected.

“We’ll typically have mold issues in late spring, early summer, late summer and maybe early fall in southern Indiana. In the winter, the air is usually dry where it doesn’t support a lot of mold,” Mann said. “Although the mold might be up in the ceiling, we don’t like having it so as soon as we know we have an issue, we try to correct it right away.”

Before the mask mandate was dropped over Spring Break, the reading rooms on the second and fourth floors were the only rooms available to reserve for group study. Now, the study rooms can be reserved at full capacity rather than the one person per room before the break. The reading rooms are designated quiet rooms again.

“Fortunately, the timing was good because it was right before USI’s Spring Break,” Hostetler said. “We did not lose that room as a group study room that we would have had to use it for during the mask mandate time.”

Madalin Dant and Kristen Earhart, sophomore nursing majors, and Taylor Dixon, junior nursing major, study in the second floor reading room. The second floor reading room is still open as of publishing. (Photo by Uday Lomada)

Madalin Dant, sophomore nursing major, said she and others were unaware of the changes to the library study room rules.

“We did not know that (the rules changed) last time we were here,” Dant said. “When we booked the reading room three days ago, it still said one person per room, and we didn’t want to get kicked out of a room.”

In the meantime, students can reserve group and individual study rooms through the library’s online reservation system.