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Subject: Library fire in France

Library fire in France

From: Rizio Bruno Sant'Ana <rbruno>
Date: Friday, June 25, 1999
    350,000 books burn in France
    A Major Library Disaster In France

    The library shared by the University Lumiere (Lyon 2) and
    Jean-Moulin (Lyon 3) possessed about 450,000 physical volumes
    (monographs and periodicals). A large proportion of this
    collection was destroyed in the fire that started on Saturday,
    June 12th, a little before 2:00 a.m. First estimates indicate
    that about 350,000 were volumes lost. Included in this group are
    all of the periodicals from the 19th and the 20th centuries, as
    well as the basic collections needed for the programs in
    humanities and law.

    As of now, it is not possible to determine the exact number of
    volumes that will ultimately be rescued. However, the first
    rescue operations that took place last Saturday and Sunday (June
    12 and 13) have saved the most precious volumes from the 16th,
    17th and 18th centuries, as well as the manuscripts and the
    incunables (about 150 items). As a whole, about 8,000 early
    volumes have been recovered by the rescue workers, the personnel
    of the two universities and the students. This very important
    result was achieved on Sunday by 5 p.m.

    Other collections seem to have survived, but located as they are
    in areas that have become dangerous, their exact status cannot
    be easily ascertained. All in all, it is not yet possible to
    evaluate the number of volumes that can be saved when the
    situation is completely under control.

    This catastrophe decreases in a significant manner the library
    materials at the disposal of Lyon students and while various
    measures are being implemented to ensure the preservation of
    what has been rescued. Various scenarios are being studied and
    they all aim at rebuilding the collections which are needed for
    teaching and research in the shortest possible time.

    In addressing this message to you, we seek advice and perhaps
    even a bit of help. Allow us to outline our main areas of

        1.  If you have any practical library experience in
            recovering from such a fire, please share your
            experiences ; if you know of good documents that spell
            out useful tactics and strategies to recover as
            gracefully and efficiently as possible from similar
            catastrophes, please point them out to us

        2.  We envision acquiring various collections in microfilm
            or microfiche formats so as to convert them quickly to a
            browsable format, either in limited, on-site, intranets
            or otherwise, depending on the copyright situation
            encountered in each case. Do you think this is a good

        3.  More generally, do you think that relying upon a
            strategy of digitization to recover from this fire makes
            sense? Does it make sense to plan this recovery action
            within the wider plan of establishing a brand new,
            digital, library? In other words, does it make sense to
            use the crisis to push a resolutely modern and possibly
            pioneering digital library project. Or does it make more
            sense, more humbly, to look for the lost volumes and
            replace them as far as is possible, according to various
            rules of priorities.

        4.  Assuming you have control or ownership of digitized
            materials which may be of potential interest, may we
            envision negotiating the purchase of or access to these

        5.  If there are any obvious steps that we should take and
            that seems to be missing here, would you be so kind as
            to point them to us.

    With many thanks for your time and kind advice, please accept
    our most heartfelt regards.

    Charles Micol
    Directeur de la Bibliotheque Universitaire
    Charles.Micol [at] univ-lyon2__fr

Rizio Bruno Sant'Ana
Biblioteca Mario de Andrade
Rua da Consolacao, 94
01302-000 - Sao Paulo - SP

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:4
                   Distributed: Friday, June 25, 1999
                        Message Id: cdl-13-4-001
Received on Friday, 25 June, 1999

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