Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future. –Ray Bradbury

Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek (Duchess Anna Amalia Library) in Weimar / Thuringia

The Herzogin Anna Amalia Bilbiothek is a research library for literary and cultural history with a major focus on literature of the period around 1800. The library provides public access and houses around 1 million items.

On 2 September 2004 a devastating fire destroyed the building including the precious collection of books and art. The library building, which belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage, was damaged by fire and water and left the third floor and attic completely destroyed.

More than nine hundred community helpers started to evacuate tens of thousands of books and art works during the night and in the following days. Books, globes, maps, the world largest Faust collection, Nietzsche´s private library, music sheets, oil paintings etc were saved. It was the largest library fire after World War II.

37 burnt oil paintings (portraits from the 16th – 18th century) were completely destroyed. Around 50.000 books were burnt, ¾ are estimated to be replaced in the next decades. Either by restoration, as donations by private persons, second-hand purchases or on loan from other institutions.

Most of the damaged books were moved to the Centre for Book Maintenance in Leipzig. The company developed several restoration procedures for books damaged by acid, mould, water. Staff are experienced in cover restoration, map treatment, ink corrosion treatment and paper restoration as well.

In terms of the water damaged books from Weimar quick action was needed. All the books received a so called ¨freeze-dry¨ treatment.

¨How does freeze-drying work? Freeze-drying causes water to sublimate. This means that water passes from the solid, frozen state directly to the gaseous one. Ice escapes from the paper without turning liquid again. This prevents any further damage from repeated swelling, inks will not run and colours will not continue to bleed. As compared to drying procedures using high heat, there will not be any further damage while drying.
Books are enclosed in a vacuum chamber for freeze-drying. The air pressure of usually about 1,000 millibar is reduced to less than 6 millibar. The ice escapes into this vacuum without liquefying, leaving the books completely dry.” (source website http://www.zfb.com/en/home)

In the meantime 75% of the books are back from Leipzig and are being reshelved.

The historical library building reopened to the public on 24 October 2007.

 

 

Source: Leipzig-Zentrum fuer Bucherhaltung http://www.zfb.com/en/home
Anna Amalia Bibliothek Weimar https://www.klassik-stiftung.de/en/institutions/herzogin-anna-amalia-bibliothek/
http://www.anna-amalia-bibliothek.de/en/brand.html

 

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