ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An arson fire set a month ago in the North Valley Library could keep the popular site closed for half a year as cleanup crews struggle with the damage.
As many as 80 percent of the 60,000 volumes may have to replaced, said Dean Smith, director of library services for the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System.
And there is extensive smoke and fire repair that needs to be completed at the library on Second NW, he said.
In all, it could cost as much $500,000 to complete all of the work and replace the books, he said, although that’s an early estimate.
The 15,000-square-foot building is operated under a cooperative agreement between the city and county, with the city’s insurance covering the books and the county’s insurance covering the building, said Tierna Unruh-Enos, library marketing manager. How much of the expenses will actually be covered is still to be determined, she said.
The fire itself only damaged a relatively small number of books and books on tape, with the smoke causing most of the problems.
The Bernalillo County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the fire, but has just recently finished interviewing all of the employees, said Larry Gallegos, county fire spokesman.
Other than confirming that the fire was arson, the department could make no additional comment until the investigation is complete, he said.