Over the weekend of 31 January/1 February 2015, the library of INION RAN suffered a catastrophic fire which burned for over 24 hours. INION, the Russian Academy of Sciences’s main social sciences institute, held over 10 million items in its library in Moscow, including a great deal of stock which was globally or nationally unique. The fire has been little reported in the western media but has of course attracted a great deal of attention in Russia. The cause of the fire is not yet clear, nor do we yet know for sure what has been lost and what has been damaged. While reports suggest that the majority of the library’s holdings survived the fire, the combination of a collapsed roof and the long firefighting operation mean that vast amounts of material are likely to have been water-damaged and left open to the elements. An overwhelming addition to these problems is the reported loss of both the card and electronic catalogues of the collection.
Here’s a link to the Guardian’s report on the fire (here) and here’s a Russian-language article on lenta.ru attempting to address the likely losses (here). For anyone who might be in a position to help more practically, ideally on the ground, a Russian facebook volunteer page has been started (here).
[Note: INION RAN stands for “Institut nauchnykh informatsii po obshchestvennam naukam Rossiiskoi akademii nauk” – The Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Academic Information on Social Sciences]