Author loses 5000 books in garden shed fire
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A story from the Independent to chill the heart:
One of the theologians at the university department I study at: Lost 200 000 dollars worth of rare books in the 2011 brisbane floods - He lives next door to me on the river.
d-b I sympathise greatly with him. I live within a kilometre of you and your neighbour. I would be devastated to lose a collection that has been almost 40 years in the making. I was surrounded, but fortunately not directly affected by the flood this time. Not so lucky in the 1974 flood - lost all my books then, but minuscule collection at that stage.
Those outside Brisbane, Australia can get some idea of the devastating floods that affected our city in January 2011 from these sites:
The first site has fascinating before and after aerial pictures (slide cursor across picture) but they were taken after the water had dropped by over a metre. The second site has my personal pics of the flood.
>5 wcarter: Yeah was a shame. I didn't know him at the time or I would have tried to help him out. I lived at the bottom of Durham street during the floods, in an old old Queenslander. The water came halfway into the second story! Luckily i am a poor young student so my folio library is still relatively small - and the few grands worth of random texts i have amassed were easily transported to a neighbours dry haven.
And presumably these losses were not insured?
Must have been truly heartbreaking.
We must all move to higher ground and build our sheds from brick.
Bonfire of the Vanities? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonfire_of_the_vanities
I really feel for this guy. Can you imagine if this happened to you? I may go back to paperback. ;)
In 1994 a caretaker accidentally wiped out the Central Library and Record Office in Norwich, England, when he set off a gas explosion; the resultant damage from fire and water (hosepipes) was hailed as the country's greatest loss of knowledge - books and irreplaceable historic documents - since the Second World War. Or possibly the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
I'm not sure what the final toll was. I think that while the great majority of water-damaged documents were saved - or are still in the process of being saved - at least 100,000 books were lost, as was a USAAF memorial library.
It did wonders for the fledgling Disaster Recovery industry.
Water damage from a fire hose, or even dropping a book into a swimming pool, is different to flood damage. Floods are dirty.
Try dropping a book you hate into the dirtiest mud puddle you can find, then add extra mud and a touch of sewage (our local sewage plant was flooded - use your imagination!). Then trample on book for 24 hours (turbulent current). Then remove from muddy puddle. It becomes a sodden stinking mess and the paper returns to its roots as pulp. Books cannot be salvaged in any way.
Books doused in clean water for a brief period can be carefully dried page by page then put into a press to regain their shape, and they can come back to about 90% of original quality if given enough attention and time.
Even with fire, tightly packed books burn poorly and I have seen books survive with merely singed spines when all furniture in the room was destroyed. This when a friend's apartment caught fire a few years ago.
Have any members of FSD lost collections due to fire, flood, cyclone, hurricane etc.?
I lost everything I owned in hurricane Katrina except the clothes on my back pretty much. I could have lost more than that though I suppose.
I have not , but I like to read books by this subject. bibliophile talk about the experience of losing all their collections, because of war. or revolution..etc.
I lost many, many comics years ago due to a flood. They weren't all very valuable in terms of dollars, but my brother and I had had many of them for a long time as we grew up reading them. It was very sad :(
> 10 Sadly, yes, I have lost books to a flood; about 200, including most of my FS collection (37 volumes at the time). It was only a relatively small flood, but mud and sewage are mud and sewage even if they aren't with you all that long (and it didn't help that b******s in 4X4s kept driving at speed down the street outside raising waves that swept the vile brew back into the house).
I've just noticed that the coming weekend will be the fourteenth anniversary of our flood. Desperate as we are for rain in my part of the UK, I hope it doesn't all decide to fall at once as it did in '98 !
I think losing something you really care about, although material is still depressing. We get many tornadoes where we live, and I know possibly one day all my books will be destroyed in the blink of an eye. Natural disasters are so humbling... the closest I got to destroying a few of my books was wasting a whole tall glass of water on the floor where I had some Folios stacked, I was able to get to it quickly (put some typing paper between the pages and then stack them to act like a weight and then air dry the slipcases, you can't tell they been damaged by water) but it really got me to thinking how much water (a life saver) is an enemy of books.
Thulean that's terrible! Losing valued books is one thing, but losing everything - that's really not nice at all.
Phoenixmemnon and tag83 also have sympathy for losing so many books. Floods don't look so bad when the water is high, but the mud and smell afterwards are horrendous!
I have just been flooded out.
Burst pipe, no one home for an hour.
For the record, once water hits a Billy bookcase, it immediately loses its integrity.
LesMis, terribly sorry to hear such bad news. Do hope that most of your valuable books were not affected.
Very sad to hear this. Like boldface, I hoipe the damage is limited.
Thanks for the kind thoughts and personal messages.
I'm expecting Dr Carter to arrive at my place sometime soon to share half his Folio collection with me :-)
More seriously... look for the silver lining in every circumstance .... the water was clean !
Sorry to hear about the damage. How many books, FS and others, have been damaged?
Even clean water is not good for books.
I lost my entire book collection (meager as it was in those days) in the 1974 Brisbane flood, so can sympathise.
Not so sure about giving you half my FS book collection, but if you want to come and drool sometime, let me know, as we seem to be about 50km apart.
Some people have a difficult time watching a surgery performed, because they can somehow feel pain just from the image.
This thread causes me mental anguish, so can only imagine how torturous it has been LesMis. You have my empathy, and if you are ever in this neck of the woods you can have one of my Folios in replacement.
(Just not YRTTD ;)
A good idea!
Les Mis, if you have lost some of your FS collection, I do have a few duplicates that you can have. Send me a PM.
>29 EclecticIndulgence: Indeed; I find the thought extremely distressing.
Very sorry to hear of your flood LesMis.
>25 LesMiserables: Sorry to hear this.
Hope you haven't lost too many important or valuable books to the pipe-water (and as importantly that your house isn't too damaged -- at least in Australia you use treated timbers (unlike NZ, where untreated kiln-dried radiata* seemed like such a great idea) , so your house won't rot away).
Burst pipes are always a big fear for me, as it can get a bit cold here in Queenstown (got down to -16C one night last winter), and Kiwis are absolutely pathetic builders, so the houses are deficient in almost every aspect of construction, including protection for pipes. It is hard to protect books against all the possibilities, sadly. I guess you just have to mitigate the obvious risks and hope for the best. I have just fitted seismic restraints to all my bookcases so they can't topple if the alpine fault ruptures (which it will at some point). Anyone who lives in a quaky area should definitely consider doing this, as a falling book case can kill you, your kids, pets, etc (as well as ruining the books). Another thing worth doing, especially if you have glass-fronted cases (I do), is waterproof the top of the bookcase in case you have a roof leak.
*The absolute shi**iest wood that you can build a house from. With the exception of balsa.
Sorry to hear about the burst pipe, Les Mis - I hope your insurance covers the damage and that you haven't lost many beloved books...
Update: all the books have been moved by a removal firm into storage. Assessor comes tomorrow. The damage will be humidity if anything as my wife managed to open the door of the library just as the water was reaching the lowest books.
So I am grateful that things are not as bad as I initially thought although I can't say the same for my walls and skirting boards and furniture!
wcarter you can relax :-) but I am honestly humbled by your offer.
I am with a good insurer by reputation, so hopefully all will end well.
It never rains but it pours as they say. My car was caught in the middle of a nasty hail storm in December in Brisbane. Same insurer copped it.
That's not quite as bad as I feared, though still horrible. Here's hoping that any damage to the books is minimal and that the other damage to the room/house/furniture can be put right without too much stress or agrivation.
Sounds like you are having a bit of a time with everything; I hope your luck get better now.
>34 LesMiserables: Hail storm in Brisbane in December ?!? I lived there for a year in2005/2006 and we had some impressive summer rains , but not hail . The World's weather really is going mad.
I hope the damage is not as bad as feared.
>34 LesMiserables: >36 tarangurgi:
The worst storm in Brisbane history hit on 27 November 2014 with huge hail (thousands of cars and houses damaged), cyclonic winds and torrential rain. I managed to get my car into an underground car park seconds before the hail hit, but then had to walk most of the way home because of downed trees and powerlines. Fortunately no damage to my house or library!!!
Les Mis, you were again unlucky.
>36 tarangurgi: Yes - friends of mine in St Lucia had all their windows bashed in with hail and were then flooded by "sideways cloudbursts" blown by a typhoon through the gaping frames. See also: http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-27/videos-of-hail-in-brisbane/5923574
>34 LesMiserables: Glad to hear not quite so disastrous, Mon Coeur!
>32 Studedoo: My nephew emigrated there and I love it too. He IS a builder (but a really good one!!!) For earthquake-proof shelves you may need kauri; can't imagine anything shifting that stone-like wood...
My wife got caught up in that November Brisbane storm. She was driving down to Brisbane Airport after doing some work in Hervey Bay. Ended up driving right towards the storm and just skirting the edge of it -- and had to shelter in an underpass. Made her flight and didn't get the rental car blown to bits by giant hailstones, fortunately.
(And today even Sydney had crazy storms -- The missus spent a a while in holding pattern over Sydney after diverting to Christchurch for extra circling fuel. Connection to Cairns missed...)
So sorry to hear this LesMis. I do hope that you can recover. Maybe an idea for the future to not have your eggs in one basket. I have some books in professional storage.
Yes, that was the one. I got caught on Johnson Rd at Forestdale. Incredible noise. Intersting trivia: my car ended up looking like a gold ball, but my windows survived!
My sympathies to everyone who speaks above of losing books in fire , flood and burst pipes . I have been there myself with the problem of loss of books through water damage ,( but not my whole library ) . fire alerts and alarms are an essential in a library . We need a means of helping one another to replace lost books .
We went through a tornado that picked the House up and twisted the roof in the 206 mph wind. Our neighbors only had foundations left. We lost 27 lives.
That was 7 years ago and some of my books are still in storage. Most of the books were OK even when the House imploded knocking the Windows and doors, including frames, upon us. We were covered in shards of glass and even tree limbs that came through the walls.
I do have a small number of Folio books that are duplicates if you want to pm me.
I think it would be easier to list the books that you have lost here. I too have duplicates - well as I recall at least Year Round Things :).
Last year there was An LT member who lost his library , about 800 books in an Australian fire . His comment was that the value of LT cataloguing lay in knowing what he lost and we could all read it too . I suggested helping to replace , ( an impractical idea for those of us in far away places) but LT itself was brilliant in gathering together books in the USA and then arranging posting . I wonder of we can get such a help your neighbour effort going again, especially in Australia ???? sometimes airlines step in to help with a free delivery to where help is needed . We could ask Qantas to join the effort . Is there a list of lost books ?
Good golly. I am blown away by the goodwill on here. But to be clear, so not take advantage of that goodwill, the whole library has been moved and are in storage and only in a few months once the house is ready to have them back again will I know of the damage. I am also insured to a decent degree which is a blessing.
If you are able to do so, I'd really recommend putting a de-humifier in the storage and running it for a few days. It could really improve the outcome for anything that has just become mildly damp.
"We could ask Qantas to join the effort ."
Good luck with that. When my dad in the UK died about 10 years ago, the best ticket Qantas would sell me to the UK was their absolute most expensive economy class fare (roughly $8,000 in 2005 dollars). No discounts. My experience is that they aren't the most compassionate company unless there is some publicity to be had. I once flew from Perth to Sydney for a meeting. They got me there 6 hours late, due entirely to a diversion to Adelaide that was entirely their own fault (essentially in time to come home, as the one-off meeting was missed). The business class section was empty on my return flight, but they wouldn't even give me an upgrade, despite them taking $1,000 of my money and throwing it in the bin. Genuinely a horrible airline.
On the upside, though, there's this story doing the rounds of how Qantas is the only (significant) airline in the world which has never had any of its passengers die in crashes.
While not strictly true (Being one of the oldest airlines out there, they, too, had their fair share of fatal accidents while the kinks of commercial flights were still being ironed out), that surely counts as a plus in my book.
According to that fallible source of knowledge, Wikipedia, their last fatal crash was in 1951.
Yes, Qantas have been pretty lucky, plus their maintenance and training have obviously been pretty good as well. They had a number of pre-jet-age fatalaties, mind, as you allude to. The reason that I say they have been lucky is that they have several flights in the last 10 years that could easily have resulted in hull losses if luck had gone the other way -- e.g. the one that violently porpoised on the way into Perth or the A380 that suffered an uncontained engine failure.
>52 Studedoo: - The less is spoken of that Trent 900 failure, the better (cough) - I happen to work for the supplier of said engine, albeit thankfully in the marine division, where QC issues seldom put several hundred lives at risk.
My nerves simply aren't up to working in commercial aviation.
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