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Illinois library tries to rebuild after tornadoes

Published: Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 11:00 a.m. CST
In this Jan. 9, 2014 photo, mold is seen growing on the pages of a water-damaged book at the Washington District Library in Washington, Ill. (AP Photo/Journal Star, Justin Wan)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A central Illinois library is trying to piece together its collection of books, DVDs and other material that were damaged or destroyed during November's tornadoes.

Officials at Washington District Library still aren't sure how many items that were loaned out were lost in the storms, according to a report (http://bit.ly/19oVHWM ) in The (Peoria) Journal Star. But Library Director Randall Yelverton said at least $10,000 in material was destroyed.

"A lot of the most popular books were lost, the ones we can't keep on the shelves," he said.

The powerful Nov. 17 tornado destroyed more than 1,000 homes in Washington, a town of about 15,000 people 10 miles from Peoria. The library itself received minimal damage — only a single book inside was destroyed from a leak — and a five-foot-long piece of wood punctured the roof.

Yelverton said he's trying to get residents to return items that were checked out as they rebuild so officials can get a better tally of what needs to be replaced.

"Returning materials to the library is low on people's list, and that's completely understandable with how many people in our town are busy reconstituting their lives and homes," he said. "We just want to have a better understanding of what we lost. We want to know what's lost forever and what just hasn't been returned yet."

To do that, they're waiving late fees.

"I know a fine on top of countless other expenses victims have as they rebuild could possibly scare people away from returning items, but we're not worried about getting their money," he said. "We just want the books, no matter what the condition."

Yelverton said books can easily be damaged by water, which can swell pages and cause mold to grow. Some books that have been returned are stained and have warped pages, while some have glass embedded in the spines.

Across Illinois, about two dozen tornadoes touched down during the November outbreak. The tornado that hit Washington had winds that reached up to 190 mph and was on the ground for more than 46 miles.

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