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It took 40 days and 40 nights for Noah's world to get back into some semblance of order, but Van Pelt Library did it in just over a month. Today is day 34 after the flood, and previously soaked books have already arrived back from Texas where they were flash "freeze dried" to prevent mildew damage. A rooftop air conditioning coil which sprung a leak, dousing the west end of the fourth and fifth floors of the library in mid-August, is being replaced, as well as the coils in the other three rooftop air conditioning units. And on the fourth floor, most compact shelving -- which moves electrically to allow access to books -- is now back in working order. According to Patricia Renfro, Associate Director of Public Services, all but one aisle can be reached by the public. A hole cut in the water-damaged and buckling floor tiles of the remaining aisle makes it unsafe for use. But on the fifth floor, library workers continue to make once-a-day trips to retrieve books for patrons from the waterlogged compact shelving, which must be moved via a mechanical hand crank. Library employees are now uncarting the freeze-dried books. Officials said Friday it would be several days until they could see how well the books survived last month's deluge. Even then, administrators said it would be difficult to immediately place a value on the damage, since many books could be difficult or near impossible to replace. Many of the books destroyed may now be out of print. Books in the East Asia collection, which was particularly hard hit, can be difficult to obtain, since many are published halfway around the world. "The chance of replacing that sort [of book] is infinitesimal," Administration and Finance Manager John Keane said. Also, four new air conditioning coils were crane-lifted to the library's roof last week to replace the coils presently in Van Pelt's four rooftop air conditioning units. Normally, water pumped through the coils cools air circulated through them. In last month's accident, one of the coils began to leak, allowing water to shower down on the collections on the library's west end. The coils had not been replaced since the library opened in the early 1960s. Although Physical Plant workers regularly inspect the air conditioning units, officials said last month the type of leak that caused the flood could not have been detected. Keane and Renfro said Friday that more information on flood damage would be released in a forthcoming statement.

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