Like his fellow students at Conestoga High School in Tredyffrin Township, 14-year-old Warren Zhao was excited Tuesday to start a week and a half of vacation from school.
But less than two hours after school let out, Zhao was combing through stacks of nonfiction books. He had volunteered to help the financially struggling Tredyffrin Public Library recover from flooding that hit the day after Thanksgiving.
"I feel like it's my duty as a citizen of the community to help out as much as possible," said Zhao, who also volunteered on Sunday with fellow members of Boy Scout Troop Devon 50. "I came back because when I got here, I didn't think the flooding would be that bad."
Plumbing malfunctions caused part of the library to flood a month ago, destroying carpets and furniture, and damaging some shelves and drywall.
Since the flooding, volunteers - solicited and unsolicited - have been streaming into the library to reorganize more than 70,000 displaced books so thousands of people with Chester County Library System cards can find what they need.
The cleaning crew that came in to deal with the flooding quickly pulled up contaminated carpets and removed damaged furniture. That left no time to worry about the Dewey decimal system as they moved books to safety.
Library staffers were just glad the flooding that closed the building for nearly a week did not damage any of the books. But the timing was a blow.
The Tredyffrin Public Library is struggling from statewide cuts to library funding. It has been holding fund-raising events to help it deal with a more-than-$100,000 deficit.
The library has not opened on Wednesdays since December 2009.
Tredyffrin Township is considering bids on who will make the necessary repairs from the flooding. Library officials hope to have new carpeting within the next month or two.
The show of support from volunteers has been a silver lining.
"It's encouraging to know we have such a vested community," said Michael Packard, director of Tredyffrin Township Libraries, which is composed of the Paoli Library and Tredyffrin Public Library.
Members of Conestoga High School's National Honor Society and individuals stopping in for a book have lent a hand.
Yellow caution tape separates the affected nonfiction and fiction sections from the rest of the library.
Because library patrons are not permitted past the tape, people who normally would go straight to the books they need have to ask librarians for help.
"I feel like it's really connecting the staff with the patrons a little more, with that additional interaction," said Stephanie Bragg, who works at the reference desk.
Members of the Main Line Quilters Guild were among those who volunteered to venture beyond the caution tape to help reorganize the books. The group meets regularly in the library.
Sally-Ann Fritzson, a member of the guild, spread the word to her book groups and her church.
"I said 'You've got to come, everybody has got to come,' " she said. "Patrons of the library are really glad it exists, so anything to help out."