by Erica Fuller
The John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library was evacuated during the early morning of Thursday, March 16th due to a sudden emergence of smoke in the second floor main reading room. The Catholic University Libraries’ Twitter post alerted students at 5:26am, announcing that the library had been closed. Thirty minutes later, however, another Twitter post noted that the entire library was now reopened, with the exception of the second floor main reading room.
University Librarian Stephen Connaghan commented on the incident, stating that the library was closed briefly to identify the source of the smoke. During the library’s closure, it was determined that the onset of the smoke stemmed from one of the HVAC units servicing the main reading room. A problem within the unit “caused metal to rub on metal which filled the room with smoke,” Connaghan said.
In an effort to rid the room of the smell of smoke, the library remained closed for the rest of the day on Thursday. This resulted in some confusion amongst students, as the entrances to the main reading room were marked with caution tape.
“I was certainly very confused when I walked past the reading room doors covered in caution tape…it felt like I was passing a crime scene,” senior history major Kevin Fowler stated. Despite the confusion, Fowler said he “is pleased to see it [the main reading room] opened again” as he felt “cramped studying in the little second floor hallway.” Fowler also said that the closure did not affect his studies.
Dr. Kevin Rulo, Director of the Writing Center, and Austin Powell, receptionist at the Center of Academic Success, expressed similar views. Rulo noted that the “disruptions occurred early before our opening and that we were not affected at all thankfully. The Library staff does always a great job of keeping Mullen Library well-functioning, even amid unforeseen and difficult circumstances.” Powell too stated that the reading room’s closure had little effect on the Center for Academic Success and that students and tutors were simply moved to a different room. “It wasn’t a terribly busy day for us,” he added.
Apart from the smoke in the main reading room, Mullen library faced yet another maintenance difficulty last Thursday. As snow quickly began to melt from the recent storm, it became apparent that some was melting off of the main entrance to the library. A mass email was sent to all Catholic University students, informing them that Facilities Maintenance and Operations had placed a temporary cover over the library entrance. This precaution was executed in order to shield entering and exiting students, visitors, and staff from the melting snow. Graduate student Maria Notarianni appreciated the temporary cover’s protective features. “It was nice to know that CUA [Catholic University] was going to such lengths to assure students wouldn’t be injured while they tried to carry on with their academic duties,” Notarianni said.
The library has since returned to normal scheduling; a part of the main reading room remains roped off due to unrelated plaster repairs.