By: Kimberly Redmond
After a flood destroyed part of the Caldwell Library last summer, the community opened its wallets to help repair the damage.
Now, after collecting more than $25,000 for its “Reimagine & Rebuild” campaign, the library is opening its doors to host a party to thank donors for their generosity.
Scheduled for Saturday, June 1, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the library will host a grand re-opening event for the public, offering activities, raffles, balloon animals and a visit from book character Pete the Cat.
The afternoon will also include the dedication of the library’s donor wall and new artwork in the children’s room.
In her spring newsletter, Library Director Claudine Pascale said “Thank you to all who donated money, books, time and a supportive shoulder as we went through the process of rebuilding the lower level of the library. The end of the ordeal is in sight and we want to celebrate!”
In early August 2018, the library was among the many properties in town damaged after a severe thunderstorm with heavy rainfall dumped nearly five inches of water in parts of Essex County and prompted a series of floods.
Caldwell was among the hardest hit areas in the state, reporting the highest level of rainfall during the storm – 4.92 inches. The storm also damaged Caldwell’s municipal building, as well as community center parking deck.
The library partially reopened later that month, however only the upper level was used since the downstairs area, where the children’s room is located, was left unusable after flood waters rushed down the ramp and into the room.
Besides mud and water on the floors, hundreds of books were damaged and thrown out as a result. The library also lost all of its toys, musical instruments and furniture.
Fortunately, boxes that were part of a local history archive that sustained water damage were salvaged after being sent to a specialist to be dried and cleaned, according to the library.
Many programs wound up being cancelled, including the annual Summer Reading Wrap-Up party. Though some children’s programming was still held in other parts of the library, it wasn’t the full array of activities normally offered.
“Saturday, August 11, 2018 is a day we here at the Caldwell Public Library will never forget,” Pascale said last fall. In her newsletter in September, Pascale wrote that she and the staff are committed “to providing the best possible service” and thanked the community “for its outpouring of support during this trying time.”
In November, the library launched a fundraiser to collect $25,000 to rebuild its beloved children’s room. Among the repairs needed: cleaning, dehumidifying, ripping up old floors and installing new ones, and repainting walls.
In addition to financial contributions, the community also donated toys, musical instruments, games, puzzles and books to help their hometown library.
Shortly after the start of the New Year, the children’s room reopened, offering its full schedule of activities and programs once again.