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Battle to rescue literary gems after floods

posted 26 Feb 2009, 17:57 by David Rintoul   [ updated 17 Nov 2009, 20:16 ]

Major flooding hit the National Library of Scotland last night, after a sprinkler valve burst on a top floor.

The building, in the heart of Edinburgh, is the country's legal deposit library and holds many extremely rare items. The National Library of Scotland holds seven million books, 13 million printed items and more than 1.6 million maps.

The library's collection includes The Complaint of the Black Knight, printed in 1508 which is the earliest printed book in Scotland; The John Murray archives, including manuscripts of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, the First Folio of Shakespeare and copies of the Gutenberg Bible.

Up to 30 staff including specialists were called in to work through the night to save valuable manuscripts as water flooded from the building's top levels nine floors down to the basement.