After allowing the books at the Charles Tisdale Library to rot, it now appears that the Jackson-Hinds Library System will let the city of Jackson foot the bill for disposing of them.
Last month, the Jackson-Hinds board of trustees voted to abandon its interests in the E. Northside Drive facility, effective September 30.
According to a copy of a letter informing the city council, the system “will bear no further interest or responsibility, financially or legally for the Tisdale Library. The utilities will be turned off, all exterior lighting will remain dark, also, contents and liability insurance coverage will end.” In other words the library board is just walking away.
The library closed in April 2017, following heavy storms. The books were left at the branch and allowed to become contaminated with black mold and mildew.
The letter doesn’t state whether the system will remove the books, but only that the board was turning over the “heavily damaged library property” to the city.
Jackson-Hinds Executive Director Patty Furr was asked multiple times if the system would dispose of the books, but she refused to answer.
Passing this problem off to the city is troubling.
Disposing of the books is likely to cost tens of thousands of dollars. Specialists will have to be brought in, because the books are covered in toxic black mold.
Book disposal costs aside, Jackson now must bear any legal responsibility related to the library. If the building can’t be sold, Jackson will have to insure it.
With the library also announcing that it’s turning off Tisdale’s security system, the empty building could now become a haven for the homeless looking to escape the elements.
What happens if someone breaks in, spends the night and gets sick? What happens if someone dies from exposure to black mold?
These are serious concerns. Jackson-Hinds had to abandon its administrative offices at Welty last year because of black mold there. At least two employees reported respiratory problems prior to the relocation.
Imagine a homeless person sleeping in the Tisdale building overnight. Imagine that person sleeping in the branch night after night this winter.
What about a fire? What if homeless people decide to burn books there to keep warm?
There’s now no security system there to inform authorities if a break-in or fire occurs.
Rumors have abounded for months that the city has a potential buyer for the building. Let’s hope this is the case.
Library officials have put this albatross around Jackson’s neck, an albatross library officials themselves created.