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A burst sprinkler valve on the top level of the National Library of Scotland saw water cascading down the building's 12 floors. Around 700 books were left soaked but staff admit they don't know which of the 14 million books were damaged.

Big clean up after flood hits National Library of ScotlandLibrary staff are today inspecting some of the world’s rarest books after a flood hit Scotland’s national collection.

A burst sprinkler valve on the top level of the National Library of Scotland saw water cascading down the building’s 12 floors.

Around 700 books were left soaked but staff admit they don’t know which of the 14 million books were damaged.

advertisementWilliam Shakespeare’s First Folio and original manuscripts of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species could be among the casualties in the collection in the heart of Edinburgh.

Up to 30 staff including book preservation specialists were called in to work all night into this morning to save valuable manuscripts as water flooded from the building’s top floor above George IV Bridge down to the basement in the Cowgate.

Even Bruce Blacklaw, NLS press office, mucked in with the massive mucking up job until 2am.

He said: “There is light water damage to between 600 and 700 books, which obviously is a worry.

“The incident was contained very quickly, but with that said, anything which happens and has an impact is a matter for real concern.

“There is water in the collections area and but luckily the vast majority of collections are in waterproof boxes.

“We have a large team of staff, including preservation and conservation specialists, who worked through the night to dry out some damp items and assess the damage.

“The collections are incredibly diverse and we are talking about perhaps a couple of hundred items. It is difficult to categorise precisely what they are right now, or when we will be able to reopen.”

The burst sprinkler set off a fire alarm at 6pm on Thursday, sparking a full scale response from the fire service.

With the library due to close two hours later, 15 firefighters evacuated the building.

They worked with library staff to creat makeshift dams to usher the water away from spreading further to other rooms.

A fire service spokeswoman said: “There was severe flooding from the 12th floor downwards, caused by a burst water main to a sprinkler valve.

“Fire service and library staff used salvage equipment to direct it into the main library area and away from other rooms.”

The library collection also includes the earliest printed book in Scotland; The Complaint of the Black Knight printed in 1508.

Mr Blackwell added: “We are greatful to Lothian and Borders fire and rescue service staff for their prompt assistance and to our own staff for showing great dedication to the library and staying to help out.”

Library bosses hope to open some rooms to the public on Monday, but are certain the John Murray archive exhibition will remain closed until further notice.

http://www.theherald.co.uk/

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