Today: McKeldin 10:00AM - 09:00PM


Posted: Aug 25, 2011

Out-of-date Warning This news post is more than three months old and may contain out-of-date information.


A rare East Coast earthquake rattled McKeldin Library and several branch libraries at the University of Maryland on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.

McKeldin Library was closed to the public following the tremors on Tuesday and reopened on Friday, August 26.  The Art Library and Architecture Library also closed to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday.

More than 27,000 books fell from the shelves in McKeldin Library. Compact shelving on four floors was compromised; one unit tilted off its track. A free-standing bookshelf on the library’s fourth floor collapsed.

Surface cracks appeared in two stairwells and apparently at the tops of pillars on the first floor.  A team of structural engineers began a visual analysis of the building and review of construction drawings on Wednesday.  Because of the size of the building, a second engineering team joined the inspection effort Thursday, and late Thursday night approved our plans to reopen McKeldin on Friday.

Several staff members have been relocated from their offices because of damage to surrounding areas.

Staff cleanup has been extraordinary. All of the books have been picked up and loaded onto approximately 150 book carts. Sorting and shelving is underway. Only eight trucks of books – approximately 700 items—require preservation treatment.

Materials also fell from the shelves in Hornbake Library, Art Library, Architecture Library, and Engineering and Physical Sciences Library. Some shelving units in Hornbake are unstable. Because materials are shelved in areas not open to the public, the library remained open.



Wednesday, September 7
7th Floor now open.  All materials now accessible.

 Tuesday, September 6

  • 6th Floor now open. Repairs to the compact shelving on the 6th floor are complete.
  • 4th Floor now open. The collapsed shelving unit was reassembled and books reshelved.
  • 7th Floor. Work continues to rebuild the two collapsed ranges on the north end.

 Thursday, September 1
Stabilization of compact shelving continued.

 Wednesday, August 31
Stabilization of compact shelving continued. Workers began picking up the books in the open aisles to be able to move carriages and access the first collapsed range. They will then be able to unload the collapsed range and reach through it to stabilize the range standing between the two collapsed ones. They can then rebuild the collapsed range, move it and the one standing next to it, and get to the second collapsed range. 

Tuesday, August 30
Crews began stabilizing the compact shelving on the 7th Floor, but in the process a second range collapsed. Workers were able to tighten one sway brace in every standing range except the one between the two collapsed ranges.

 Monday, August 29
More than 90 librarians, staff and student volunteers completed the ongoing effort to reshelve the 27,000 fallen books, accomplished in just 3 and a half business days.

 Friday, August 26, 2011

  • McKeldin Library reopened following a positive report from structural engineers.
  • Some areas and ranges of books remain inaccessible due to compromised shelving. These areas include:
  • Reading rooms on Floor 4, which house East Asian collections.
  • Compact shelving on Floors 6 and 7, which houses bound periodicals and books relating to library and information science (Periodicals H-Z; Z regular stacks; and National Bibliographies). 
  • Materials in compact shelving on Floors 3 and 4 are now accessible after inspectors verified the stability of the shelving.   
  • We checked our math. Approximately 27,000 books fell in McKeldin Library, not half that amount originally reported.  The 150 book trucks were double-loaded during the cleanup.
  • Consortial circulation services resumed and we began filling requests from affiliated institutions wishing to borrow our materials. The service had been suspended since Tuesday.

 Thursday,  August 25

  • Engineers expect the structural evaluation of McKeldin Library will continue throughout the day.
  • McKeldin Library will remain closed to the public until the engineers issue their report.
  • Representatives from SpaceSaver Corporation, vendor of the compact shelving, began evaluating the damage.
  • Staff made great progress in sorting and shelving.  Approximately a third of the books  have been reshelved.