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Sept. 15, 2011 Volume 33, No. 4

Ellis Library reopens after weekend fire damages offices

Ellis fire

RESTORING ORDER Servpro employee Andrew Gorman uses a HEPA vacuum cleaner to remove dust and soot from the first floor circulation area in Ellis Library that was damaged by a fire over the weekend. The library’s reserve and inter-library loan offices were also damaged, along with a small number of books. Photo by Nicholas Benner


Columbia resident faces arson charges

Ellis Library reopened Tuesday following a weekend fire that damaged the library’s circulation, reserve and inter-library loan offices.

Columbia Fire Department fire fighters responded to an automatic fire alarm at around 3:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 10. Fire crews discovered a fire that was being controlled by automatic fire sprinklers.

None of the books in the general stacks, offices or carrels were harmed. A small number of books in the inter-library loan, reserve and circulation offices were damaged and are being restored. Those offices will be temporarily moved until the damage is repaired.

The State Historical Society of Missouri, which sustained water damage, reopened Wednesday. The MU Student Center remained open until 2 a.m. Tuesday to provide a space for students to study.

 Jim Cogswell, director of MU Libraries, thanked Campus Facilities for working through the weekend to open the library as soon as possible. “It’s unfortunate that the actions of one individual had such a large impact, but we’re very happy that no one was injured and that the damage was contained to a small portion of the building,” Cogswell said.

Christopher C. Kelley of Columbia was arrested late Saturday night by MU Police. Kelley, 25, faces numerous charges related to the fire, including one count of second-degree arson and seven counts of second-degree property damage.

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to update their cell phone and text messaging contact information in order to receive notification in the event of an emergency that has the potential to affect your health and safety. The MU Alert system will automatically call your cell phone with a voice message, send a text message to your cell phone and send an e-mail message to your university e-mail account, in that order. If you respond that you have received the message, the call sequence will cease.

Enrollment in this program is free. The university will not use this contact information except in an emergency. For more on MU Alert, including how to update your contact information, visit