The bound journals (including 19th century French editions) were stored in the P building. Vigilant University Library employees checked the store room as soon as the flooding in the P building was discovered.

Drainage pipes between the bookcases

Roman Koot, the Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet librarian, describes what he saw there: “There’s a drainage pipe for rainwater that runs through the store room and it wasn’t able to deal with such a large volume of water. It burst right between two bookcases releasing an enormous amount of water.” Approximately twelve linear metres of shelving containing bound journals were damaged by the flooding.

“Colleagues quickly removed everything from the bookcases. This morning, a company specialising in salvaging water-damaged collections transported the wet bindings to a location where they will be frozen to prevent mildew from forming,” said the shaken librarian. The company will shortly present a salvage plan. It is not yet known how much this will cost.

Unsatisfactory storage conditions

The sad thing is that the collection was on verge of being transferred to the brand new storage facility under the renovated University Library. This storage facility meets all the criteria for the proper preservation of books and journals. “It is now abundantly clear that the current storage area was unsatisfactory. The intention was to move the collection after the summer, but now we might do it earlier,” says Koot.

Yesterday’s downpour began around five o’clock and lasted about an hour. According to a university spokesperson, the heavy precipitation overloaded the rainwater discharge system near the P building and rainwater leaked down into the study areas. The study areas and offices were evacuated immediately and the electricity was shut off.

Sanders and Tinbergen buildings also affected

Expectations are that the building, with its approximately 250 study spaces and a number of offices, will reopen for use on Monday 4 June. The cleaning company Asito dried out the building yesterday and dehumidifiers should remove any remnants of moisture.

The spokesperson also stated that the university will examine whether the rainwater drainage system has sufficient capacity for dealing with such heavy precipitation.

The downpour also caused damage in the Sanders building where the cooling system malfunctioned due to flooding in the utility area. A lift in the Theil building is also out of service due to water in the lift shaft.