BLOOMINGTON (AP) — Books on books on books. That’s what the first floor of the North Showers Government Center looked like not too long ago when about five rooms were filled with Monroe County’s oldest records.
Before that, the books were scattered throughout five or six buildings, with many housed in the basement of the Cantol Wax building, where mold was a serious problem.
Now the books are in what hopefully will be their permanent location, the old recorder’s office in North Showers, where county archivist Jon Weiler has nearly all of them stacked neatly on shelving in the room.
On one wall sit most of the commissioners’ records, minutes from meetings as early as the late 1800s. On another shelf rest several books menacingly labeled “Insane Records,” which hold records of commitment proceedings. Lining another area is a complete set of probate order books, dating back to 1898.
It’s been a long-term vision for many county officials to get these books in a single space, away from some of the harsher elements.
The Monroe County Board of Commissioners committed the space to create an archive in the building last spring, but it’s taken a few months to pull the space together.
Most of the books were stored in basements or attics of buildings — not the ideal locations for historic documents.
As the books were being moved out of the Cantol Wax building, the records went through a cleaning process, where the books were first frozen, then placed in the sun, which helped remove the mold.
Mold wasn’t the only problem the books faced. Those that are leather-bound developed red rot, a degradation process that causes the leather to become powdery. Weiler wrapped the outside and inside of the books in a plastic, which should help stop the rot from further development.