Of mice and mold

Libraries contain records that describe many “things wise and wonderful”; occasionally, however, we unwittingly house “creatures great and small” (mostly small).

Over the years, our library has welcomed many visitors: prospective students and their parents, alumni returning for reunion, local researchers, notable authors and lecturers, and scholars visiting from overseas.

We try to offer all a warm welcome, information about our services and resources, possibly a quick tour, and, on these hot summer days, a cool place to sit and read.

Among our many guests, there have been a very few who haven’t received the warm welcome we offer to others. Generally, these are the same visitors you wouldn’t want to see in your own home: mice, insects, mold.

Abandoned mouse nest in map case drawer.

Nibbled maps & abandoned nest in map case drawer.

These uninvited guests can be very destructive to our collections. All feed on books, maps, and documents and leave a mess behind, albeit in different ways.

Sometimes we only come upon the evidence that an unwelcome visitor was here and left (or went into hiding). Sometimes, we encounter the non-human guest directly. Neither is the highlight of a staff member’s day.

There are better places for mice, insects, and other “creatures great and small” to live. Mold, too, has its place, just not in a library.

You can help us preserve our print collections by avoiding (or cleaning up) crumbs and spills, using the trash bins and recycling containers, and alerting us to any messes, unwelcome guests, or damage you see.

As for the books you borrow, if they happen to get damaged or wet in any way, please tell us. Accidents happen; we know this. Books sometimes get wet. Folks have been known to spill coffee on them, drop them in the bathtub or in a puddle, and even leave them out in the rain. Dogs have mistakenly used them as chew toys. Whatever the reason, we’ve probably heard it — and seen it — before. We know that occasionally we will have to treat or replace a damaged book. What we don’t want is mold growing and spreading throughout more of the collection. If that happens, we could risk losing large numbers of items that aren’t easily replaceable.

And for those of you who are a little uneasy at the thought of insects, rodents, and mold (oh, my!), please don’t worry about the first two. We haven’t had any sightings mice or insects recently. And we’d like to keep it that way!

The sad news is that we did discover mold on some government documents this summer, so we are particularly concerned about avoiding any spread or introduction of more. If mold makes you uneasy, it should; it worries us greatly.  Please help us keep mold and  wet materials (including books that got wet and appear to have dried) out of the library. And if you see any signs of mold on a library book, let us know immediately!