Skip to main content

Records of the Library Flood

Identifier: ULIF

Scope and Contents

The Records of the Library Flood consists of documents dated 1987 to 2008, with the bulk falling from 1997 to 2001. The collection contains materials regarding the damage to Morgan Library and the response of Colorado State University to the flood of July 28, 1997. Materials include contracts and correspondence with Boss and Associates, hired to oversee the repair of the collection, technical service records regarding catalog changes to repaired books and journals, photographs of Morgan Library right after the flood, VHS recordings of local news channels and CSU media relations on the flood and repair of the library, and administrative records. The administrative records were created by the library dean's office and include reports on book repair and replacement, memos, emails, and meeting minutes of various library committees, such as the disaster recovery team and gift augmentation project, formed to deal with the flood damage to the book and journal collections, records of book and monetary donations to the library, process and implementation of the interlibrary loan service, and information regarding restoration of Morgan Library.

At the time of the flood, Morgan Library was being renovated and some of the materials in the collection cover the budget and planning for this renovation.

The original contracts with Boss and Associates are marked as confidential, these are open for use with no restrictions.


  • Creation: 1987-2008
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1997-2001


Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


On July 28, 1997, a severe thunderstorm hit Fort Collins producing between 5" and 10" of rain, depending on location, in six hours. Colorado State University was heavily impacted by the resulting flood waters. Thirty buildings sustained damage, including Morgan Library. A low lying area on the west side of the library allowed water to build up against a temporary plywood construction wall. When the wooden wall collapsed water flowed into the basement of the library, rapidly rising to the 10' ceiling and submerging the book collection, a computer lab, staff offices, and other areas. The basement housed all of the bound periodical collection and part of the book collection, specifically social science, humanities, and science related publications, totaling approximately 430,000 volumes.

Removal of the materials could not take place until two days later - after the area had been pumped out and the vendor chosen to treat the damaged materials had set up a work space. It took fourteen days to pack up and remove all of the damaged volumes from the basement area. By that time mold had developed on most volumes as well as the library shelves, walls, and floors.

Books and periodicals were freeze-dried to remove water and eliminate mold growth. After books were frozen, they were thawed, gently cleaned, and vacuumed. Not all volumes were salvageable. Those with less than 30% damage were repaired by being rebound, having damaged pages replaced with copies, and covers replaced before being returned to the shelves.

The university opened on time for the fall semester on Monday August 25, 1997, and library services were available for students and faculty via the FastFlood ILL service, where requests from CSU were given the highest priority. In addition, a shuttle service was offered to participating academic libraries at the University of Wyoming, University of Denver, University of Northern Colorado, and the University of Colorado where CSU students, faculty, and staff were given borrowing privileges.

To rebuild the collection, the library set up a donation center for books and journals. Approximately 10-15% of the titles donated were found to be exact matches for damaged materials and were added to the collection, along with an additional 5% that were new titles. The remaining donated books and journals were offered to other libraries across the country. Books were also purchased for replacement, including those determined to be most heavily used. Within one year after the flood, over 3,700 individuals, corporations, libraries, and publishers donated gifts of print materials, services, and money to the library. It took until 2004 for recovery and replacement of the damaged materials to be complete.


10.5 linear feet (7 record cartons)

Language of Materials



The collection contains materials regarding the damage to Morgan Library and the response of Colorado State University to the flood of July 28, 1997. Materials include contractor contracts, reports on book repair and replacement, memos, emails and meeting minutes of library committees formed to deal with damage to the book and journal collection, book and monetary donations to the library, interlibrary loan, and restoration of the building. Also included are photographs of Morgan Library right after the flood, and VHS recordings of local news channels and CSU media relations on the flood and repair of the library.


The collection is arranged in original order.

The collection consists of four series in seven record cartons:

Series 1: Boss and Associates, 1997-2001

Series 2: Administrative files, 1987-2001 and undated

Series 3: Technical services, 1997-2008 and undated

Subseries 3.1: Diane Lunde records, 1997-2004 and undated

Series 4: Audiovisual and miscellany, 1997-2004 and undated


The Records of the Library Flood was transferred to University Archive by Library Administration in 2008, 2012, and 2013. Additional materials were transferred from the Office of External Relations in 2013. Diane Lunde, former Coordinator of Metadata and Preservation Services, donated office documents in 2016.

Online Materials

Some materials have been digitized and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.

Related Collections

The 1997 Flood: Newspaper Clippings on the Flood, July 28, 1997 scrapbook is part of Special Collections (call number F784.F6 A17.1998).

University Archives holds additional archival collections of the University Libraries.


Processing was completed in November 2014 and 2016. Materials were rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes, and duplicate copies were weeded.

Guide to the Records of the Library Flood
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Karen Spilman; revised by Victoria Lopez-Terrill
Copyright 2014, 2016
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA