The Willam Cullen and Wartenweiler libraries were flooded overnight after bathroom taps were left open during the water outage yesterday.
Michele Pickover, the principle curator for the historical papers research archives, said that the staff arrived this morning to flooding on the third basement of the William Cullen library where the archives are kept. Not all the archives were affected but the extensive collection of press cuttings used by researchers was damaged by water.
The collection covers the periods from 1940 to 2000 and captures a lot of the South African history. They have been removed from the original holding area to be dried.
“In the event that they are too badly damaged we will have to try digitise them to make them useful still for researchers,” said Pickover. The Rivonia Trial documents, court papers from the trial of former president Nelson Mandela and others, are safe as they are kept in a separate location.
According to Pickover, the university will be providing dehumidifiers to help lessen the dampness and humidity in the basement. In the long run though the department is looking to move to a new building that will house the archives as the current one is not ideal.
William Cullen library was closed today on the advisement of Property and Infrastructure Management Division as they wanted to inspect the danger of water and electricity to the computers and equipment in the building.
Wartenweiler library was partly closed today. It had two of its floors affected by the flood and kept these blockaded as a safety precaution for the students. They are still in the process of assessing the extent of the damage said Paiki Muswazi, the deputy university librarian.
Both libraries will be open tomorrow.