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About this collection

View the Olympic College Libraries Roof Collapse collection
On December 29, 1996, because of accumulated snow and ice from a snow storm, the roof of the Eastern portion of the Olympic College Learning Resources Center building collapsed destroying two-thirds of the building.  


This collection includes a KOMO 4 Video News Broadcast by anchors Dan Lewis and Margo Meyers and reporter Keith Eldridge that covers the collapse of the Library roof. Donna Allen, Olympic College's then President, was interviewed.


About 5,000 Reference books were destroyed that day due to the collapse and resulting water damage. The force of the roof collapsing onto the shelving units caused windows to shatter and books went flying out the windows and onto the floors.   The roof cracked over the reference 700’s, making art books into clay bricks by the droves. Four days later, cranes were brought in to lift sections of the roof so staff could go in and box up as many salvageable books as they could that same day.  As the snow melted, books and journals that were on the floor became water logged and could not be saved.  As a result, staff had to walk on these books to get the “surviving” ones off the shelves.  By 4:30 p.m., a light rain began to fall and darkness descended. 


Except for the American Heritage magazine which was salvaged (at one of our librarian’s request) by a dedicated volunteer who waded through debris to reach it, the rest of the periodicals collection had to be left behind.  National Geographic Magazine which the library had back to 1888 but was located in the reference area was also saved in its entirety. The removal of parts of the collection that could be saved was done in the span of one day.  Somehow, additional staff and volunteers managed to save all but one of the pieces of art housed in the library. 


After structural engineers determined it was safe to go into the basement which was the media area, staff and volunteers went down to remove equipment.  The basement had accumulated 1-2 feet of melting snow and rain when the drains backed up and the water had nowhere to go.  Big dehydration units were set up in the gym and salvageable books were moved there to dry out before being boxed and stored. 


Demolition of the building took about two weeks.  Then everything was removed from the basement and either put into the working mobile homes that housed media or packed up and stored.  A small essential hardcopy reference section was purchased immediately and was put in a room about 15 x 15 located in the surviving Western one third of the building.  With the new library and replacement funding there was a massive undertaking to evaluate and replace the critical reference titles and books and journals that were lost while “survivors” were repatriated from storage.


The photographs in this collection were taken by various library and campus staff in January 1997.  The titles of each image were provided by the cataloger.  "Learning Resources Center" was the name at that time for the Olympic College Library.


This collection was created by and is maintained by Leslie Hassett, Adjunct Faculty Librarian. For questions or information please contact Leslie Hassett by email at: or call Library Administration at 360-475-7262. 

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