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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2007, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Artefacts escape library flooding
National Library of Scotland
The National Library of Scotland is in Edinburgh
Scotland's most treasured literary artefacts escaped largely unscathed after a sprinkler system flooded the country's largest library.

Five floors of the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh were affected when a sprinkler pipe was broken during renovation work.

Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue said the accident happened at about 2328 BST on Monday.

A spokeswoman said there was no major damage to the collections.

The library had been closed for refurbishment when the accident happened.

It is understood that workmen accidentally burst a sprinkler pipe, releasing water over several floors of the building.

Holds copies of the Gutenberg Bible, the original manuscript of Darwin's Origin of Species, and the First Folio of Shakespeare
John Murray Archive holds manuscripts by Darwin, Byron and Sir Walter Scott
Formally constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1925
Funded by the Scottish Parliament since 1999
One of only six legal deposit libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland

The NLS holds 13 million books, including the Gutenberg Bible dating back to 1455, and major collections.

A total of 11 firefighters with two fire appliances and a support unit attended the incident until 0200 BST on Tuesday.

Fire crews and library staff worked through the night to salvage the historic collection housed in the building on the city's George IV Bridge.

A spokeswoman said there was some superficial surface damage to a "very small percentage" of items.

All the material affected is now undergoing conservation treatment.

National librarian Martyn Wade said: "We are fully assessing the impact of the incident but it appears that there is no long term or serious damage."

'Heavy flooding'

The library recently acquired the world-renowned John Murray Archive, which contains the writings of Jane Austen, Charles Darwin and David Livingstone among others.

Other treasures held at the library include the last letter of Mary Queen of Scots, written six hours before her execution.

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said: "We arrived to heavy flooding.

"We isolated the sprinkler system before assisting staff who were wrapping up books."

Under the 1710 Copyright Act it was given the legal right to claim a copy of every book published in Britain.

It remains one of only six legal deposit libraries in the UK and Ireland, and collects around 6,000 new items each week.

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