The Joseph City Library may be trying to expand or even change its space, but one thing it isn’t sure of is expanding its collection of books. At least if they come from Wallowa County’s now defunct library.
The subject came up at the Joseph City Council’s Oct. 4 meeting when city librarian Eric Shoudel included it in his monthly report. He said the Wallowa County Library Foundation is trying to find a home for the collection.
Shoudel said he had recently culled around 600 children’s books from the city library, and while he didn’t want to replace them all, he said he’d like to have 200-300 of the county’s volumes.
Joseph Mayor Dennis Sands said that it sounded like a great idea but there was a problem. The council had previously approved a resolution against accepting the books because of a mold problem at the county library.
“We don’t want to introduce that into our library,” he said. “Is there any way to test them?”
Shoudel said that after several tests on the old county library building, mold was only found in the utility closet due to a faulty water heater.
“They’ve had the building tested, and someone worked in there for 12 years lending these books all over the county,” he said. He also offered to wipe the books down with alcohol or a disinfectant.
“I think what we need to do as a council, now that we have the awareness that this is a possibility; that puts the liability back on us,” said council member Teresa Sajonia. She added that if a certified person were willing to go on the record saying that no possibility of mold existed in the books, she might change her mind.
“It’s not a matter of not wanting the books,” she added.
Council member Marty Hamilton asked if there were a way to sterilize the books, and Shoudel reiterated his offer to wipe down the books as they were all hardcovers. He also stated he didn’t see how the mold would get inside the books as he hadn’t heard reports of opening the books and finding green pages.
Olivia Losby, a member of the Wallowa Valley Library Foundation Board said two tests were done on the library, and she had the results of one of the tests through the State Accident Insurance Fund that she offered to show. She said the results of both tests showed no major concerns and added that she had the name of someone who could test the actual books although she needed to check on pricing.
Shoudel said he hadn’t offered to take the books from the foundation.
Council member Patty Mumford said that the building tests were only tests on the building and that her concern was the children’s books being read by children sensitive to mold.
“I think there’s a risk bringing in books from a mold environment,” she said.
Losby said that some of the books had already been passed to the Building Healthy Families organization.
“I’m not trying to minimize the problem, but I’m not sure if there is a major problem or not,” she said.
Mumford reiterated her concern about untested books and the city’s liability even though the books have been circulated for decades in some cases.
“We didn’t know about it when the books were being circulated,” Sajonia said. “Now we know, and that’s where we have to draw the line. We have to be responsible.”
Sands suggested the matter be tabled until the books were tested. Shoudel said that he’d like to see the books find a home rather than go into the dumpster. Sands suggested that the librarian examine options to test the actual books, and the matter was tabled.