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News Release


Burst Water Main Endangers National Library of Canada Collection

Ottawa, January 22, 2003  -  Yesterday’s bitterly cold temperatures resulted in a ruptured water main creating havoc in the basement levels at the Jean Edmonds Tower facility, where part of the National Library of Canada’s collection is stored.

Fortunately, only a few documents in the collection were damaged. Members of the National Library of Canada’s Response Action Team were able to save close to 2 320 books and periodicals by immediately moving them to vacant shelves in another part of the building. To prevent further damage, plastic sheets were draped over certain areas. Damaged materials were promptly removed from the shelves and transported to refrigeration units in the main building of the National Library of Canada, at 395 Wellington Street. The water main has been shut down by the City of Ottawa, and the leaks in the sub-basements have been contained.

This is the second time in recent months that water has threatened the collections stored in Jean Edmonds Tower. Last June, a leak from a heating pipe resulted in water damaging hundred of Canadian books.

"This is the first incident in the new year, and I suspect it won’t be the last as long as conditions in our storage facilities are not improved," stated Dr. Roch Carrier, National Librarian. "Had it not been for the quick response of our staff, there would have been even greater damage."

The National Library of Canada has over 20 million items stored in various buildings in the National Capital Region. Close to one million of them can be found in the basement levels 2B and 3B in Jean Edmonds Tower.

Further details on the extent of the damage will be available once the incident and evaluation reports have been compiled.

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Pauline M. Portelance
Media Relations
Library and Archives of Canada