National Library of the Czech Republic - - Damage Caused by Flood, Its Remedy, and Future Prospects
(the text below does not contain information on the Library's activities aimed at helping other institutions)
- Damage Caused by Flood
- In the National Library of the Czech Republic, the flood damaged or destroyed, above all, the infrastructure located in the underground of the Clementinum (rooms for storing material and furniture were inundated as well as a boiler room, a transformer, various underground offices etc.), which made the already bad technical condition of the Clementinum considerably worse.
- Partial changes occurred in subsoil and minor static defects were detected in the underground, which caused e.g. defects in central heating piping in the eastern wing (State Technical Library) etc.
- The total damage to the buildings amounts to ca CZK 18 million.
- However, the greatest harm is, according to the National Library, in the fact that it will be necessary to change future prospects of adaptations of the Clementinum area within the framework of the preliminary investment programme of the development of the whole National Library of the Czech Republic for the forthcoming several decades (the prepared conception planned for principal reconstruction of the Clementinum buildings and for construction of large premises in the underground in order to provide a really modern building for the National Library, which would rank it among other modern European libraries in countries, we can compare with - e.g. Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Denmark etc.).
- Very complicated was financing of damages in the end of the year 2002 (only a considerably lower amount of absolutely essential funds was allocated from the state budget in the last year).
- In this situation, it was very complicated to solve contractual relationships with suppliers.
- Despite of the aforementioned circumstances we managed to arrange for a stopgap electricity supply and heating of buildings in time; in the beginning of 2003 a new transformer will be installed and a system of heating in the Clementinum will be gradually finished.
- In the beginning of 2003, the financial situation in this matter began to become stable, we prepare materials to recover the remaing part of absolutely essential expenses for damages from the funds of the European Union.
- According to the total amount of financial means received in 2003, the National Library will make decision concerning the extent and effectiveness of reconstruction works of the Clementinum in this year (it is also necessary to solve repairs of all underground rooms that have been damaged).
- Expert's reports are on the point of finishing; they will determine further consequences of geological changes caused by flood in the Clementinum area (geological and static expert opinions, the condition of sewerage system etc.).
- The crisis commission sits regularly; it deals with many concrete tasks aimed at helping the National Library to be much better prepared for similar situations (e.g. a new organization of the surveillance of the area, the arrangement for stopgap sources and transfer capacities, the innovation of emergency directions, the purchase of suction pumps, the preparation of preliminary conditions for the work of a crisis team, suitable storage of technical equipment earmarked for catastrophic events etc.).
In connection with the aforementioned necessary revision of the prospective Clementinum's reconstruction, as per para a., it will be necessary to make a decision whether it is desirable and effective for the National Library to plan its development of the 21st century in the Clementinum area, or whether it will be necessary to solve the modernization of library activities by constructing a new building.
We consider very important to clarify some legal aspects of the crisis management in institutions such as the National Library. It concerns mainly the establishing of crisis teams in the institutions being in charge of extraordinary, cultural, national values and a great volume of possessions. E.g. in case of an ordered evacuation of a building by the Police, the position of crisis teams actually collides with the state of emergency ordered by the government (the Police need not accept the role of crisis teams in depressed areas and it can order an unconditional evacuation, which however, may result in wastage), it may result in a conflict of duties of both parties - e.g. during the last year's flood, the crisis team was based in the Clementinum actually incognito.
Written by: Michal Hora, February 4, 2003