After the flood: Reopening Little Valley's library

Dec 4, 2019

Credit LittleValleyLibrary.org

Three inches of rain in an hour worked to flood part of the village of Little Valley in July. One of the casualties was the Memorial Library of Little Valley. While a coordinated community response saved all 40,000 books, the damage forced the library to close for the remainder of the summer.  An exceptional volunteer effort allowed the library to reopen in early November.


"We lost 24-inches of drywall (and) insulation all the way around the building, 4,000-square feet of carpeting," recalled Linda McCubbin, Director of Memorial Library of Little Valley.

The community came to the rescue.

McCubbin says the nearby Ellicottville Brewing Company donated 400 cardboard boxes to store books. The EBC's forklift--and dozens of volunteers-- helped to move the books and shelves down the street to a school for storage.

Money was another matter. Little Valley, McCubbin says, never experienced flooding before so there was no flood insurance. The library's $73,000 budget was not going to cover repair costs.

Fundraising is common. In the summer, the owner a local blueberry patch allows volunteers to harvest some of the fruit for sale, the proceeds of which benefit the library. After the flood, 500 people attended a special picnic to bring in much-needed dollars. Still, sweat equity was required. Volunteers painted the walls. Some local contractors worked at cost to complete repairs.

"This is a poor county," said McCubbin, so the library's 11 computers are in demand. 

"We get a lot of folks in applying for jobs online and the kids doing their homework."

The library's public Wi-Fi system is available 24 hours a day.

"You will not go by the library any time of the day without finding either kids sitting out front on the bench or cars downloading from the Wi-Fi."

While the library is running at full operation, McCubbin notes more is needed. Some furniture destroyed in the flood has yet to be replaced. A carpet is being sought for the children's area of the library.

McCubbin is thankful for the extensive community effort.

"To just get our library back was great."