Library roof repair delay leads to more damages

Abigail Miller, circulation clerk at the Coffee County Lannom Memorial Library in Tullahoma, shows one of the areas at the library with wet carpet due to the leaky roof. Employees have covered some of the shelves in attempt to protect the books. The repair of the library roof has been delayed again.

With the completion of the roof repairs at the Coffee County Lannom Memorial Library delayed again, leaks have caused additional damage and loss of books over the last two months.

About 10 active leaks – two of them worse than before – remain at the library, according to Library Director Susan Stovall.

Tape, buckets and plastic pans can be seen all over the floor and ceiling; plastic shrouds are used throughout the building to protect assets; and some areas have had to be closed off due to wet carpet, even as fans are working to dry the damp spots.

In addition to all of this, Stovall is now worried about mold issues. So, to try to protect shelves and books from further damage, employees have removed furniture and reorganized the library.


Repeated delays

The company tasked with the repair project is Tri-County Roofing based in Manchester. The total cost is estimated to be about $100,000.

Construction work on the roof began in October and was expected to last about three months.

In February, work was delayed due to inclement weather.

The weather has been more cooperative lately; however, another issue has prevented project completion, according to Coffee County Director of Maintenance Robert Gilliam.

Some additional metal panels had to be ordered, and, as of Thursday, they had not yet been delivered.  

“We are putting some additional metal on the roof,” Gilliam said. “We looked at [the roof], and it had some dents. [That required] some additional metal. That metal is coming in and the construction workers are going to put it on.”

As soon as it comes in, the company will install it and move on with the repair work.

“It will go on pretty quickly after this,” Gilliam said.

The project is still expected to be completed on budget, said Gilliam. 

“There was no additional cost – it was a swap – instead of using one material we are using another,” Gilliam said.

Once the project is completed, Tri-County Roofing and roof manufacturer AquaSeal will be responsible for maintaining it for 20 years. Tri-County Roofing will also be responsible for repairing the roof and will cover labor for the first two years after installation, according to Andy Farrar, purchasing agent for the county.

The first section of the library was built in the 1960s, and the roof has only been patched since then.

At the beginning of the repair work, Stovall said, the situation at the library had improved significantly, with the number of leaks decreasing from nearly 20 to two. However, repair delays have seen the number of leaks creeping upward again. 

With leaks and flooding issues plaguing the library for more than 20 years, library employees have extensive experience wrestling with this problem.  They keep buckets in areas with dripping water and are ready to empty them and cover books any time it rains. They have also made holes in the ceiling tiles to install plastic pans that funnel the water to the collection buckets on the floor.

Stovall hopes emptying buckets filled with rain water will no longer be required when the repair is done. Not only is the chore of emptying buckets unpleasant, she said, but it is a distraction from other library duties. More than that, she said, emptying buckets on the roof requires climbing a ladder, and that can be dangerous.

Many of the ceiling tiles and insulation, saturated with water throughout the years, have had to be replaced, and now Stovall is also concerned about the carpet.

“Mold can be developed if the carpet gets wet consistently,” Stovall said. “When the roof is finished, we will look at replacing sections of the carpet because there is probably some permanent damage there. Libraries have to be really careful about mold.”

Damage from the leaking roof has caused problems for several years. Last year, losses reached $1,000, according to Stovall.

Library employees said they hope the repairs will be finished soon, so they can work in a dry building.

Library operations and repairs are funded by Coffee County taxpayers.

Elena Cawley can be reached via email at

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