MOSCOW, February 12. /TASS/. The library of the Moscow-based Institute for Information on Social Sciences, one of Russia's largest and oldest libraries, lost more than 2.3 million books, or 15% of its collection, in a late January fire, the institute's press service said on Thursday.
Fire engulfing the unique library in southwest Moscow on January 30 raged for 25 hours. Vladimir Fortov, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, described the fire as "a cultural Chernobyl", referring to the 1986 nuclear power plant catastrophe in Ukraine.
The library’s depository had 10 million items, including some rare publications dating back to the 16th century alongside collections of documents of the United Nations, the League of Nations, US Congress reports beginning with 1789 and the British parliament from 1803. It also housed more than 450,000 monographs.
The press service said that 985,000 books in a satisfactory condition would be moved to special depositories for drying. Some 3 million books would be frozen before restoration, which could take decades.
The library was founded in 1918.