Storm damage to Burton Barr library sends patrons, staff to other branches

The Burton Barr Central Library is relocating staff and other resources to other Phoenix library branches until Burton Barr is repaired. (Photo by Alexis Kuhbander/Cronkite News).

Staff of Burton Barr Central Library were allowed limited access into the building to retrieve personal belongings. (Photo by Alexis Kuhbander/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Storms that flooded Burton Barr Central Library over the weekend will leave it closed indefinitely, sending patrons and staff to other library branches in Phoenix.

But the library’s rare book collection, kept in a vault, is safe, library officials said.

Scott Krushak, assistant chief for the Phoenix Fire Department, said Monday a microburst damaged the roof’s sprinkler system, sending 50 to 60 gallons of water a minute cascading through the library’s five floors.

Library officials let in staff to retrieve personal belongings. Patrons and staff will be sent to other library branches during repairs. It’s unclear how long that will take.

Krushak said it’s not a small job. The library is about 280,000 square feet, or more than eight times the size of a grocery store.

“We want to do this right,” said Lee Franklin, community relations manager for Phoenix Public Libraries. “We love books. We love the library and what it does.”

Franklin said library officials appreciated the outpouring of support from the community.

“We are rallying to make sure we are back up and providing full services as soon as possible.”