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Georgetown Library Set for Election Day, Despite Leak

By Mark LiebermanCurrent Staff Writer

The D.C. Board of Elections intends to keep a polling location at the Georgetown Library next Tuesday despite currently ongoing water damage repairs to the building, board spokesperson Tamara Robinson told The Current Tuesday afternoon.

The library at 3260 R St. NW shut down on Saturday and will remain closed for minor repairs through Monday, reopening on the morning of Nov. 8, according to D.C. Public Library spokesperson George Williams.

As in years past, Precinct 6 voters are scheduled to use the library as their voting site for the Nov. 8 general election.

Though an operation team from the Elections Board is scouting potential alternative polling locations as part of a routine contingency process, Williams stressed that the board will be able to move in voting equipment on Monday, in time for Election Day crowds the next morning. Voters can check to confirm their precinct location on Tuesday.

Georgetown Library staffers discovered the leak on Saturday upon entering the building’s lobby and foyer area, according to Williams. Water had sprung from a rusted elbow joint on a pipe in the ceiling. No books or other library resources were damaged, Williams said.

Necessary repairs include replacing the pipe, drying out the floor and ceiling cavity, taking other steps to prevent mold from growing, and finally replacing part of the ceiling.

The library didn’t measure the amount of water that leaked, he said.

The library had announced earlier that it would reopen this Saturday, but the contractor assigned to the repairs determined Tuesday that the process would need more time than anticipated, Williams said.

Upon hearing about the library closure, the D.C. Board of Elections reached out to Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans’ office on Monday to scout potential alternative polling sites, Evans’ constituent services director Sherri Kimbel told The Current.

Ron Lewis, chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E (Georgetown, Burleith), said in an interview Tuesday that he hopes the library will keep community members promptly updated, particularly because of the election timing.

“We’re sorry the pipe burst and glad it didn’t affect the collection, and hope that it can be fixed quickly,” Lewis said. “We’re concerned in particular that people know where to vote on the 8th.”

Following this incident, the library now plans to conduct a survey of the building’s pipes, possibly with the help of X-rays. “We are in the early parts of having that conversation,” said Williams, who couldn’t provide an exact timeline for that survey.

The damage at 3260 R St. NW pales in comparison to a burst pipe that forced the library to close for almost a month in the winter of 2015. That flood affected all three floors and kept the third-floor Peabody Room closed to the public for the entire month of March 2015.

Five boxes of archival materials were damaged in the process, though they underwent restoration at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library downtown.

The library also closed for a three-year, $18 million renovation following a fire caused by a construction worker’s heat gun in 2007.

This article appears in the Nov. 2 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.