Raise the Roof Campaign at the Hannibal Public Library seeks to raise $200,000 to fix damaged roof


The umbrella over top the public computers on the second floor of the Hannibal Public Library is protecting leaks from the roof. The roof has not been replaced in more than 30 years. Photo by Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. — The umbrellas set up over several of the public computers at the Hannibal Free Public Library are not for decoration, instead they are protecting the electronics from dripping water.

Buckets sit on the floor to collect water in other areas of the library and when rain is forecasted, the library employees are often in a race against time to cover bookshelves with trash bags for protection.

The Hannibal Free Public Library is asking the community to help keep their building dry in their campaign Raise the Roof with a goal of reaching $200,00. 

Caitlin Greathouse, assistant director at the Hannibal Public Library, said they have been working with a local architecture company who have reported the roof as soft and in disrepair.

The Hannibal Public Library opened in 1889 as the first free library in the state of Missouri.

The roof has not been updated since around 1986 when the large skylight overlooking the first and second floors was put in.

“When it starts raining or when snow melts it gets really bad. We start watching for drips and we cover everything. We start putting plastic up if necessary. We cover computers – we have done it all,” Greathouse said. “We sometimes have water coming in front of the front entryway which then runs down into our work room so we have to make sure everything in the janitor’s closet is put up.”

Greathouse pointed at several water stains on the white drop ceiling upstairs in the library. She has replaced the tiles time and again only for the stains to soon reappear. She recently stopped replacing them.

She has also noticed at least four cracks on the skylight. This is a growing concern, especially during recent hail-producing storms.

“When it rains you just kind of sit there and you watch and hope,” she said. “We have had it resealed a couple of times but the vents aren’t directed in the right way so we get condensation on the top of everything else.”

Greathouse said she does not believe the skylight will shatter soon but it needs fast attention. The skylight is multi paneled, which means if one panel were to shatter, it would not cause the entire window to break. 

“We love the skylight and hope to keep the natural light but this skylight has outlived us, or we have outlived it, I guess,” she said. 

They plan to install a clerestory skylight. There will be four walls built up a little higher and at the top it will be all windows with a flat roof. This will make sure there is proper water drainage off the skylight.

Greathouse said the recommendation of the clerestory skylight comes from the architect and engineering firm they are working with.

“To get it all fixed at one time is our goal so we never have to worry about it again, then it’s just a normal roof repair,” Greathouse said. “We hope to not have to deal with this again.” 

The ceiling tile and stains on the wall from water runoff on the second floor. On the other side of the wall is where many children and teen programs are held.

To find out more about donating to the Raise the Roof Campaign or learn how to help raise money for it, contact the Hannibal Public Library at 573-221-0222 or email them at ref@hannibal.lib.mo.us.

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