OGDEN -- A close brush with a potentially devastating fire at the Weber County Library's main branch during last week's windstorm underscores the need for a comprehensive plan to upgrade the 44-year-old facility, library officials say.
"It's either going to fall down or burn down if we don't do something," Kevin Wilson, professional maintenance manager for the library, said Thursday. "It drives home the fact that we have to visit this problem. It's a growing concern."
As high winds whipped through Ogden on the morning of Dec. 1, a downed power line partially blew a fuse at the library's main branch at 2464 Jefferson Ave.
The fuse smoldered and produced considerable smoke, Wilson said. The library staff and patrons were evacuated and power was cut so the fuse couldn't start a fire.
If the fuse had blown at night when staff was not on duty, it's possible a major fire could have broken out and destroyed the building, said Lynnda Wangsgard, director of the Weber County Library.
The library is not equipped with electrical circuit breakers, which would have prevented the problem caused by the wind storm, said Wilson.
Two fuses that are about 18-inches long and weigh about five pounds each were purchased for about $2,700 and have been installed.
However, Wilson worries that other parts for the library's old electrical system may not be so easily obtained in the event of a needed repair.
In addition, the library building hasn't been seismically retrofitted and needs a new boiler as well as a humidifying system, he said.
The budget for maintenance and repair of the Weber County Library's five branches in Ogden, North Ogden, Huntsville, Washington Terrace and Roy totals about $278,000 for 2011, said Wangsgard.
Weber County Commissioner Jan M. Zogmaister, who is also a member of the Weber County Library Board, acknowledged the main branch building has infrastructure challenges because of its age.
Wangsgard hopes to hire an architectural firm next year to complete a comprehensive study of improvements needed at the Ogden branch.
In the meantime, Wilson and his staff continue to explore innovative ways to stretch the library system's maintenance budget.
For example, workers recently saved about $100,000 by repairing a soffit, which is a unique architectural feature that overhangs beneath the roof outside of the library, instead of hiring a contractor.
"We did it frugally," Wilson said. "We are seeking ways to save budget money for other critical items."