Mold contaminates University of Missouri book storage unit

Approximately 600,000 books and journals damaged

COLUMBIA, Mo. - More than a half million books and journals belonging to the University of Missouri may be damaged or destroyed because of mold.

A letter sent by MU Director of Libraries Jim Cogswell details the presence of active mold growth on books and bound journals located in an off-site storage facility north of Columbia.

The underground facility, owned by Subtera Underground Warehousing, houses roughly 600,000 titles of all genres.

The University's library staff estimates $1.8 million in damages. Christian Basi, the assistant news director of the News Bureau at the university, said some of the titles date back prior to the Civil War.

Right now, the library staff has put a hold on all loans for the affected materials. The group will filter through every book or journal to determine if it will be salvaged or destroyed.

If it is a title that can be found online or in other libraries, it will be eliminated from the collection. More rare books that cannot be found anywhere else will be treated.

Until test results come back from the university's Environmental Health and Safety staff, it will not be clear how to treat the material. The results will determine the type of mold and its health risk. According to Basi, those results are expected within the next two weeks.

Basi said the group plans to spend roughly $900,000 in treating the materials they keep. It's unknown if a self-insurance fund through MU's library system will cover that cost.

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