Nearly 50 years of Puerto Rico’s history captured in print and photographs that had been stored in the library of the former The San Juan Star newspaper in Guaynabo are being pulled out of the building this week by a brigade from the University of Puerto Rico.
Scores of bound volumes containing newspapers from as early as the 1950s are being salvaged from the windowless structure that has been closed since August 2008, when the English-language daily publication folded.
The brigade, lead by the UPR’s General Student Council, will return today to continue taking out the material which would otherwise be destroyed by the company that is cleaning out the building that was recently sold, sources said Monday.
“The university administration will be providing two trucks to transport the material, which if not transferred to the UPR [this week], will be destroyed by the company in charge of cleaning the building,” the General Student Council said in a brief statement released Friday.
Whatever material is rescued will now be preserved and kept at the UPR’s Central Archive.
Volunteers, including several former San Juan Star employees, who worked along the UPR staff said Monday the trucks were filled several times and would return to the vacant building today to continue the job.
Photos posted on Facebook showed areas of the island’s only Pulitzer-prize winning publication’s former newsroom in complete disarray.
The San Juan Star closed just a few months before a crew from Hollywood descended on the island to film “The Rum Diary,” whose plot revolved around an alcoholic former staff reporter. The 1950s set included at least a dozen of the bound volumes and several of the metal filing cabinets that once sat in the small library, as well as shots of the newspaper’s printing press.
After the closing, only a scant few employees were kept on the payroll to operate the printing press used to put out other publications. Earlier this year, a small fire was reported in the first level of the building, generating smoke that reportedly made its way to the second story, where the library was located.