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Hundreds of rare books soaked by rain in California State Library

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"SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) — The California State Library is working to salvage some of its rarest books damaged during Monday’s rain and hailstorm.

The third-floor ceiling had a water leak, damaging around 250 volumes dating back to the 1800s.

“The water came right through and started falling on the bookshelves,” said Alex Vassar with the California State Library. “It’s a pretty big deal. A lot of these books are very old. They are not replaceable.”

The extent of the damage is unknown, but the state library is working quickly to prevent further deterioration.

Dehumidifiers, dryer sheets, paper towels and skillful handwork is being used to repair the saturated spines and pages.

But the most damaged books were taken to the State Museum Collection Center (SMCC) and will go through a freeze-drying process.

“We are first aid. They had an emergency and they needed us to stabilize the books,” said Ross McGuire with SMCC. “While they are frozen, they are not getting any worse. Mold is not

developing. Some of the moisture is being driven out.”

Vassar hopes to get the frozen books back next week. He said the water damage could have been worse. The leak was feet from the rarest collection of books dating back to the 1500s.

With another round of rain approaching Sacramento, state workers used tar to seal any spots they think are vulnerable.

“Water is just about as bad for a book as you can get,” Vassar said. “We will repair them as well as we can. And they will bear the mark of this flood forever.”

The estimated cost of the loss and damage is currently unknown."

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