Grace A. Dow Memorial Library in Midland, Michigan Sustains $1.5 Million Flood Damage

Here is still another example why we cannot depend upon paper documents alone to be accessible in the future. Homes, streets, businesses, parks and city buildings in Midland, Michigan got soaked in a flood several weeks ago. In the city alone, more than 1,000 homes had some type of damage. Of interest to genealogists, the hardest hit city building was the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library. The early estimate puts clean up and repair work for the library at $1.5 million.

The library had never flooded before.

Library Director Melissa Barnard said the basement was covered in at least three inches of water. “We’ve lost pretty much everything downstairs, except for the books. You know, built in furniture, the furniture that was on the floor. You know, the carpeting, the walls had to be cut because they had absorbed so much water,” Barnard said.

The books were moved to storage, and the services in the basement have been relocated. All ebooks and online databases are safe as they were hosted on servers located elsewhere.

Barnard said library visits have dropped since the flood, but they hope to spread the word that they are open for business.

My thanks to newsletter reader Mary K Freel for telling me about this story.

How safe are YOUR books and papers?


I’m saddened to hear about the flood damage at the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library. When I first became interested in family history in the late 1980s, the library and its volunteers helped me discover my family who had settled in Midland County in the 1860s. A real gem for local history and genealogy. I’ve made many visits since. The local genealogy society was co-located in the lower level of the library so the losses may extend well beyond carpeting and furniture.


When I became interested in genealogy as a teenager in the late 50’s, the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library had one or two books about the history of Midland, none on genealogy. But now they have a room devoted to it on the main floor, as of the last time I visited, which I believe should be okay. They had a microfilm collection including early Midland newspapers in a file cabinet in the basement but it was probably moved to the main floor.The Midland newspapers through 1922 are available from proquest through the library if one has a card, but I don’t know about their availability elsewhere.


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