In the midst of an ongoing mold problem in the basement of McKeldin Library, Facilities Management is prepared to spend close to $1 million to divert water from the building, said Jack Baker, University of Maryland executive director of operations and maintenance.
“The bottom line is that there is a recurring mold problem in McKeldin,” said Eric Bartheld, McKeldin Library’s communication director. “Thankfully — now — the mold is dormant. But we expect it to bloom again when the weather is warmer and the air is wetter.”
Mold began to grow in the basement of McKeldin this past summer, where the library’s preservation and digital systems and stewardship divisions are housed, along with their employees. The basement is not open to the public, Baker said.
“Finding and chasing water down is very difficult, and can be an expensive enterprise,” Baker said.
To prevent water from causing problems in McKeldin, Facilities Management will likely have to divert downspouts, which collect water from the roof and bring it through pipes within the walls of the library and into the building’s foundation drains, Baker said. If the situation proves dire enough, Facilities Management will have to dig around the foundation, reseal it and then install new drainage systems, which would cost close to $1 million. The process would take one to two years, Baker said.
“I’m sure trying to avoid [digging up and re-sealing the foundation], because we have a lot of projects on campus that need to be done,” Baker said, highlighting an ongoing stormwater management plan that will cost several million dollars to implement.
There’s a possibility the water spillage in the library became more evident after Facilities Management renovated McKeldin Mall last summer, which could have caused compacted dirt to change the flow of underground streams, Baker said, but Facilities Management is still trying to find where the water is coming from.
“Water’s a funny thing, it can move in a lot of different directions,” Baker said. “So where it’s coming out of the wall may not be the major problem.”
Bartheld added that the water coming up from underneath McKeldin is a new problem; however, water leaking into McKeldin Library has been an issue for as long as Baker has worked at this university — more than 20 years.
“Most basements have water problems or can have water problems if the basements are old, and if some of the foundation drains aren’t working properly,” Baker said. “So that certainly is the situation at McKeldin.”
There have been mold issues in other areas of McKeldin as well, Bartheld said, usually during the summer when the air is humid. Whenever Facilities Management finds mold in McKeldin Library they treat it with Clorox, Baker said.
“It really all stems back to a weak [heating, ventilation and air conditioning system], and it’s something that libraries have to be vigilant about,” he said.
The problem is augmented by the fact that McKeldin Library “literally is sitting in a bowl,” Baker said, meaning it lies in a valley running from Anne Arundel hall through the Administration building, and eventually to Paint Branch stream. The other valley on the campus runs from the University of Maryland Golf Course, through Maryland Stadium and North Campus, ending at the Paint Branch stream.
“Hopefully we can control it by diverting the water,” Baker said. “And we’ll go from there.”