The Winder Library was shut down an hour early Friday afternoon after temperatures inside the building became too hot to keep it open.
According to library and county officials, a lightning strike or brownout on Thursday afternoon temporarily knocked out power, and two of the building’s 11 air conditioning units did not come back on once the power was restored.
Library personnel apparently did not notice the problem until the following afternoon, when the temperature inside the building became uncomfortable.
Operations development manager Bob Hohe said library staff reported the equipment failure to the Barrow County Department of Building & Grounds at 2:17 p.m. Friday, but the department’s director had left work for the day, and the only other employee capable of checking into the situation was on vacation.
After the library’s interior temperature rose to 83 degrees, the library board’s policy required the building to be closed.
The building was reopened Saturday morning.
“Although it was fairly warm in the building, it did not reach the 83-degree threshold,” said Alan Harkness, director of the Piedmont Regional Library System that operates the library.
Buildings & grounds director Lyn Clement checked into the situation Monday morning and discovered the fix was as simple as flipping a couple of switches.
Harkness said he appreciates Clement’s handling of the library’s heating and air conditioning problems, which have been chronic for years.
“Barrow buildings & grounds staff have been very good to us and come out when we have problems,” Harkness said. “Our staff really appreciates their responsiveness.”
Just before Clement took over that department a couple of years ago, the county looked into replacing the entire HVAC system at a cost of more than $300,000, Harkness said.
But he said Clement decided instead to replace parts of the library’s existing system at a big cost savings to the county.
“Mr. Clement has replaced the big fan motor on the exterior chiller,” he said. “He and his team have also replaced a number of compressors and motors on the 11 units that heat and cool this building. They've been doing this as funds have come available.
“They've also done extensive work in our attic space to make the units more accessible for his staff to maintain the units and replace filters.”
Library manager Angel Tuggle said Friday’s early closing was inconvenient for library patrons, but there was one person who was actually relieved to find out there was a problem with the air conditioners.
“One poor woman thought she was having a hot flash,” Tuggle said. “She said, ‘At least I’m not having a hot flash.’
“I said, ‘No ma’am, we’re all having a hot flash right now.”