Last week, the Sun learned that 34,000 books at the Charles Tisdale Library on Northside Drive have likely been lost due to months of exposure to black mold. The finger pointing is disturbing.
Jackson-Hinds Library System Executive Director Patty Furr blamed the city council for inaction, while Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote blamed the mayor. Candice Cole, the mayor’s spokeswoman, had not commented at press time.
Brenda Bethany, the Ward One representative on the library board of trustees, was unfamiliar with the problem. As a trustee, Bethany is responsible for overseeing library business.
The library closed in April 2017, due to flooding and black mold, approximately 18 months ago. Since then, additional flooding and power outages at the Northside Drive location have provided perfect conditions to further exacerbate the mold problem. Recent inspections found the toxic substance had grown onto many of the branch’s hard surfaces, a sign that the books likely are infected too. There was plenty of time to send the books to other libraries or donate them to local schools.
Furr said the council was unresponsive to her requests for funds or storage space. Foote said it wasn’t the council’s responsibility to provide funding or to move the books, but the administration’s.
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba needs to be out front on this issue, and so far he has not. Only one councilman, Ward Four representative De’Keither Stamps, took the blame. Kudos to him for doing so.
Jackson-Hinds has filed a claim for damages on library’s insurance policy. Here’s hoping that claim comes through. Even if the insurance pays up, the loss of some 34,000 titles shows a dearth of leadership within the city and library.