By Scott Levine
Herald Associate Editor
---- — A floor coated with ice.
Lockers laced with ice cycles.
Ceiling tiles stuck to the ground.
The halls of the Elijah Buell school building don’t resemble the same look when students roamed the hallways years ago.
Water leakage caused by the unrelenting winter has left the shuttered school with more damage than the occasional vandalism. While the building is uninhabited by people or a business, the building still houses the annual Friends of the Library used book sale.
And all the books are still there, leaving hundreds of fiction, nonfiction and children’s stories destroyed.
With thousands of books still in tact, the Friends are looking for a new place to hold its annual fundraiser.
That’s where the group is needing assistance, Judy Hammen, president of the Friends of the Library, said.
“We have to move the books to where they are more secure,” Hammen said. “We don’t want to move them twice.”
With more than a thousand boxes of books to move, finding a storage facility for the time being isn’t the best option, Hammen said.
A temporary storage facility has been offered, but Hammen would like a more permanent location to stock up for the fall’s used book sale.
“We’re just searching for anybody that would have a place that we don’t have to pay for,” Hammen said.
The used book sale is an annual event that features thousands of books. Two years ago, 55,000 books lined approximately 10 rooms at Elijah Buell. The books are sold for $1 or less and all proceeds go back to the Clinton Public Library.
Five of the 10 rooms didn’t sustain any damage, which Friends volunteer Larry Marquardt only recently stumbled across.
“When I came in the door, I just said ‘oh no,’” Marquardt said.
Marquardt checks on the building for owners Joe and Nicole Kupfer, who also own Fitnastics in Clinton. The Kupfers purchased the gymnastics facility in 2012, and the Elijah Buell building was included in the sale.
Nicole said she has not seen the damage yet, since the competitive gymnastics season is in full swing.
“We’ve been in the process of trying to sell (Elijah Buell),” Nicole said. “While we have been in the process of trying to sell it, we’ve let the (Friends) sort the books and store them in it.”
Hammen said the Friends have appreciated working with the Kupfers, who have allowed the Friends to use the space for free, and Nicole said the relationship has been wonderful.
“I’m disappointed that they can’t keep using it,” Nicole said. “In the situation that is in, it’s not worth it to keep their stuff in there.”
Fixing the extensive damage is unlikely in the near future, Nicole said, leaving the Friends looking at new facilities to store the books and conduct a sale.
Marquardt mentioned that 10,000 square feet would be needed for a new building and the group normally sorts books in May. Volunteers and Ashford University students loaded all the usable boxes of books into the gym last weekend, but the group is hoping the eventual thaw doesn’t create leaks in the gym.
“The longer we wait, the worse the water,” Hammen said.
To offer assistance, call the library at 242-8441.