MITSFS Library Damage Assessed

MITSFS now has an idea how much flood damage the MITSFS Library suffered at the beginning of February.

Over the February 4-5 weekend water pipes in the MIT Student Center in Boston froze and burst, causing significant damage throughout the building including to the fourth floor where the MIT Science Fiction Society club library is housed. The MITSFS Library, the world’s largest public open-shelf collection of science fiction, had an inch of water in it.  Students initially were denied access to the area to rescue books for several weeks, and unable to assess how much mold damage was occurring.

MITSFS’ Kat Allen told NESFA’s Rick Kovalcik that when the initial MITSFS team got into the building in late February there was water on the floor in the entire library. While the books on shelves were mostly safe, anything in boxes was exposed to water. The books in boxes molded, and were almost a total loss. Some of the books in boxes were near shelves, and the books on those shelves including, unfortunately, in “Damnation Alley” where the bound magazines are shelved, have visible black mold.

The team removed everything obviously moldy, trashing over 1000 volumes, mostly paperbacks and unbound magazines. They isolated the bound magazines with desiccant and hope to save them.

Rick Kovalcik says since then NESFA has been in touch with MITSFS on an ongoing basis. And what’s more, NESFA just found in their dead storage an archive of multiple copies of old magazines including Astounding/Analog in remarkably good condition (given that they were stored in an unheated storage area.) They have mentioned this to MITSFS as a possible replacement for some of their damaged collection.

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6 thoughts on “MITSFS Library Damage Assessed

  1. This feels like nitpicking, but MIT, including the Student Center, is across the river in Cambridge, not Boston.

    I’ll creep away quietly, now.

  2. I can’t help but wonder how much could have been saved if they had been allowed in at the start.

  3. Whenever you are storing books, keep them off the floor! If you’re storing them, put the boxes on a pallet or sturdy table, and cover them with plastic sheeting! It’s cheap insurance!

    If you have books around the house in various places, put them up high, like on a table, bookshelf, or other place where they will be safe.

  4. Does anyone know what MITSFS’s status is now? I was planning to drop by when I’m in town, but didn’t realize that any of this had happened!

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