The Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix was significantly damaged from Saturday’s monsoon storm.

The Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix was badly damaged during Saturday’s monsoon storm. It will be closed for at least the next few days for repairs. 

Phoenix Public Library officials tweeted the news Saturday night, but did not detail the extent of the damage. 

Phoenix fire Capt. Rob McDade said crews on scene first noticed water coming down the windows of the 5-story library and realized it was coming from the roof. 

“We soon realized we had a big problem,” McDade said. “We’ve got a high flow of water entering into the library and having nowhere to go except onto books, onto carpet, onto multiple floors.”


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McDade estimated that a punctured line from the rooftop was releasing up to 50 gallons of water per minute into the library. Video shot by Phoenix fire officials showed water pouring onto shelves of books.

McDade said crews tried to prevent as much water damage as possible.

“We understand what’s housed in here,” McDade said. “We’ve got books, we’ve got artifacts and we’ve got the history of the city here so while we were trying to mitigate the water flow we were working on trying to salvage the damage that was happening all at once.”

McDade said roof tiles also appear to have lifted up and settled back onto the roof several times during the storm, describing it as “like the wave of an ocean.”

Crews used vacuums, suction equipment and squeegees to funnel the water out of the library floors. 

Heavily-damaged areas included the MACH (Makers, Artists, Crafters, Hackers) Center, a part of the library devoted to hobbies such as video game design, science, and 3D printing located on the fourth floor.

The fifth floor, closest to the water source, housed non-ficition and reference books. 

Several other Phoenix Public Library locations are open Sunday. For updated information on which branches are open, visit

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