CIU librarian picking up the pieces after Saturday fire - - Columbia, South Carolina

CIU librarian picking up the pieces after Saturday fire

By Darragh Copley - email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia International University Library Director Jo Ann Rhodes went beyond the yellow tape on Monday after a fire destroyed the majority of the library on Saturday.

Fire investigators believe a fluorescent light sparked the flames.

As Rhodes surveyed the damage, she found books that were damaged, destroyed, and some that can be salvageable.

"It looks like most of them were Bibles, commentaries and theology books, which is quite devastating because that's the core of our curriculum and it's the core of our library," said Rhodes.

One book she picked up, a commentary of the New Testament by John Calvin, is well-known in theology community. The book was on the first 1,500 books collected by the library.

"I've been so heartened since Saturday," said Rhodes. "I've received numerous phone calls and emails from librarians from across the state,"

Besides college and university librarians, CIU alumni, local businesses, and neighbors have offered to help replace books.

"It got me through the weekend because this is a very emotional experience for a librarian, but to know that other people are so concerned that they will do anything that you ask them to, it's just my job to figure out what they can do," added Rhodes.

Still, inside the building, disaster crews are working to salvage anything they can, by cleaning up the ceilings and carpet. Inside, there are still some shelves of books that were not damaged by the flames or smoke.

While the price tag for the damage is estimated to be more than $1 million, Rhodes feels some of the books are priceless.

But Rhodes still has her faith. "Lord willing in the fall, we will be almost ready to have our students back in the library," she said.

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