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Sacramento Hail Storm Damaged 250 Very Old Books At California State Library

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

About half of the books that were damaged during Monday’s storm are drying out on tables at the California State Library.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Two-hundred and fifty books from the California State Library are now drying out on tables or are in a “deep freeze” as employees attempt to minimize the damage caused by a leak during Monday's thunder and hail storm.

Alex Vasser is communications manager for the library. He says half of the books are in a giant freezer at the Statewide Museum Center at McClellan Park, which he explained removes the humidity from them. He says they’ve used this method for staving off damage to old furniture and even a wagon.

"The head of our preservation department contacted them in a hurry and said, 'Hey, can we send some books up to get them dried off and frozen?'” he explained, “because freezing is an important part of the preservation process."

He says the hail storm and the leak came as a surprise. There was a lower point in the library’s roof, and water and ice accumulated there. When it melted, it “dripped through the ceiling into the stacks on our third floor,” Vasser said.

The oldest book in the rack was published in 1860 — and it was also the most soaked. He said there was a puddle of water flowing out of this book. The cabinet they were in were primarily about New England law and Boston and Massachusetts history.

It could take weeks to dry everything out.

"We were pretty lucky,” Vasser admitted. “About 10 feet away is another rack with books from the 1500s."

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