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Mice, mold and crickets do damage to Ferris Library

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RUSTY WELLER
Ellis County Press Managing Editor
The mice, mold and crickets are under control. It's time, says Marcie Campbell, to make the Ferris Library a pleasant place to visit again - especially with four new computers arriving soon.

'I want people to enjoy coming here,' said Campbell, Ferris' new librarian who has been working hard on library problems. 'That's so important, for people to feel good about their library so they'll use it.'

The damage has been done and removed, but the library needs attention, said Campbell, who has cancelled this summer's reading program for children because of continuing problems.

The library's brick walls must be finished, cracks and holes must be plugged, mold on walls and ceiling tiles removed, and carpet must be replaced to resolve the situation, according to Campbell. 'We need to take good care of our computers and our books,' she said.

A truckload of books had to be removed from storage rooms where mice and crickets made them unusable. The mice appear under control, she said, but the library's problems with crickets and mold continue.

'Mold is a problem,' Campbell said. 'Some won't come in because it's hard for them to breathe. There's a smell that's objectionable to some.'

Campbell said people have complained about becoming sick and having headaches as a result of visiting the library.

'I know a lot of people who don't come because of the crickets and their smell,' she said. 'You come in Monday morning and it's awful. You've got to get out the broom and sweep crickets, dead and alive.'

Cracks in walls and openings around windows easily allow insects and dust inside the building, which consists of bare brick walls. Aging carpet contributes to the musty atmosphere.

'It's like operating in a garage, the way stuff easily comes in,' remarked Campbell, who is in her first month as head librarian after serving as a volunteer since last November. She took over for Janice Ulmer, who followed Carol Smith, Ferris' librarian for 13 years.

Campbell and assistant Tina Moore didn't count the number of books damaged beyond use, 'but it filled a dump truck.' Most were donated books stacked in storeroom corners or on cupboards.

'It was a travesty,' Campbell said. 'Great, wonderful, beautiful books and to be thrown away. Mice got in and set up camp. There were piles of dead crickets and mouse droppings in there. But that's all been cleaned up.

Nobody is to blame for the damage, Campbell said. 'I know it wasn't intentional on anyone's part. The situation was beyond what could be handled.'

Campbell urges finishing the walls to better protect the library's contents - especially the four new computers. 'They were given to us with the expectation we would take good care of them,' she said.

Enough money may be in the library's budget to purchase new carpeting, she said. Putting dry wall on the bricks, calking the windows and removing mold likely will require a Tocker grant and other funding.

Campbell said new carpet must await new walls, meaning the library's six computers and book contents will be at risk until enough funds are available. She is considering asking for donations of money, materials or time from Ferris residents.

The library's book sale could raise needed money, but Campbell doesn't want to hold it at the library. 'I'd wait to Pioneer Days to have the book sale, but October is a long way away,' she said.

A library grant, though, would take even longer - to January.

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