Library continues to clean up storm damage

Many books had to be removed from shelves that sustained damage. (Cayla Grace Murphy)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cleanup continues at the downtown branch of the Cullman County Public Library, where windowpanes were blown out and the south-facing wall sustained impact damage, toppling tall, heavy bookshelves in a severe storm on Aug. 7, 2023.

Circulation Manager Laura Benton described what she experienced during the storm.

“I saw a rush of wind and water go up against the door. It was almost like you were in a boat on the ocean. Then the next thing you know, we heard and cracking of the glass and the top windows start busting out, and then that inner wall fell forward. It all happened within 10 seconds,” she said. “There was no time to panic. There were maybe 10-15 patrons in the library; we just were yelling, ‘Get in the middle room!’ We stayed in there for about 30 minutes or so and immediately started calling authorities.”

According to Benton, the library will not be open for the rest of this week. However, she said, the hope is it will be open to the public by next week.

Benton said books are being removed from shelves to ensure that there is no broken glass in the shelves or books.

She also explained that the library is being subjected to heavy humidity, which can damage books long term. She said staff is doing doing the best they can to preserve the books, but unfortunately some of the books will have to be discarded due to moisture. She said the library is always accepting book donations and that donations are welcomed during this time.

Due to the circumstances, there is currently no penalty in place if a person has an overdue book.

While the main branch is closed, there are other locations available. The other four branches in Cullman County are in Hanceville, Garden City, Colony and Holly Pond. The library also provides cardholders access to e-books and audiobooks with the online apps Hoopla and Libby.

For branch hours and locations, visit

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