Heartbreak as major flood causes lengthy Bilton Library closure

Bilton Library has announced it will be closed until the end of March following a major flood at the beginning of January.

Monday, 16th January 2017, 2:25 pm
Updated Monday, 16th January 2017, 2:36 pm
Damage at Bilton Library (s)

Flood water caused extensive damage to the flooring and electrics in the building after its boiler burst overnight on January 4.

Although no books were damaged in the flood; contractors have confirmed the flooring under the carpets will need to be replaced while the sub-flooring also still needs to be assessed.

All of the items inside the library have now been removed and transferred into storage in Northallerton.

Damage at Bilton Library (s)

The library had hoped to reopen this morning (January 16), but have been forced to reassess their plans after discovering the true extent of the damage.

Greta Knight, chair of Trustees at Bilton Library, said the situation was heartbreaking for everyone connected with the library.

She said: "We have given that date at the end of March as a ball park figure for reopening but we are still just talking with contractors to start with.

"We would love it if it was earlier, that would be fantastic but at the moment we are saying March. We hope that's the longest it may be closed for but at the moment we can't tell.

Damage at Bilton Library (s)

"Everyone who uses the library or associated with it is very sad and upset. But they've all been incredibly supportive.

"We've had offers of help from all sorts of quarters after they read the story. Everyone is asking what they can do to help which just shows how vital it is to the community."

As well as soaking the library carpets, the flood water has also caused damage to the building's offices and meeting rooms as well as the children's centre.

Bilton Library became the first of its kind four years ago to be community run and Mrs Knight has praised its success on the hard work of volunteers.

Damage at Bilton Library (s)

However, she has now raised concerns that the library's temporary closure could end up costing them customers when it eventually reopens.

She said: "We will have to launch from square one when we open again but we do have a huge amount to offer.

"Some of the groups who use the library are now without a home including the craft and book group. But they will be coming back as soon as we reopen.

"We have worked to build up our reputation over the past four years and widely praised for the work we have done. But to see it all collapse like this is heartbreaking."

Damage at Bilton Library (s)

The library has been also been forced to postpone its planned celebrations for National Library Day on February 4 for when they reopen.

"We will still hold the celebrations but will have to do it when the library reopens. It will also give us a chance to celebrate everything we've done here," Mrs Knight explained.

"The big thing is letting people know that we have not closed. The message is we are only temporarily shut but we will be back.

"We know that a phoenix rises from the ashes. I don't know what comes out of a flood but we will be doing that and coming back stronger."