VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – Tuesday morning the Sarasota County Commission voted to shut down the Venice Public Library because of an ongoing mold problem. Officials decided to do so out of an abundance of caution.
The building is 50 years old. Back in 2012 mold was discovered in one of the library’s meeting rooms, so the county cleaned it up. However, the problem persisted.
In 2014, mold returned to the meeting room. County officials have since closed down the meeting room, but mold has continued to spread throughout the library.
No one has reported suffering health problems because of the mold, however, visitors with respiratory sensitivities have made complaints, officials said.
A county official told 8 On Your Side that unless crews come in, tear up the carpet and inspect the walls, there’s no way to tell the true extent of the problem. Since it would be incredibly expensive to renovate and repair the 50-year-old library, county commissioners instead decided to shut it down.
“It’s really with an abundance of caution about the well-being of our citizens, all those who visit the library, plus our staff and volunteers, that we made this recommendation,” Sarabeth Kalajian with Sarasota County Libraries said.
The library will close on February 1. A kiosk will be set up at the nearby Venice Community Center to allow people to turn in and reserve books.
In the near future, meetings will be held to discuss plans for a new public library. Officials said they’re excited to begin work on a new library.
Still, some residents are upset about the decision. This library is centrally located for easy access, and it’s a very popular spot in the community. “Honestly, it’s like a family (here). I know the people at the youth desk. I know them by name,” Longtime visitor Rachel Warinner said.
“I think next to the beach and the weather, that this is probably the best thing around in Venice,” patron David Pinson said.
Library staff will work at the temporary kiosk or be reassigned to other libraries in the county.