The rapid-reaction library force will leap into action in the case of anything from flood to fire, while specialist training may be obtained from Leipzig’s fire services.
The agreement was signed by 15 archives and libraries from the eastern German city, including the Saxon State Archive and the Leipzig university library. Leipzig zoo library reportedly weighed in at the last minute to sign.
Their pact is a simple one; if disaster hits a member institution – be it flood, fire or gaping sink-hole – the others will be on hand to offer expertise in anything from ancient book repair to mopping up.
If necessary the transport of an entire collection out of danger to a safe place would not be off the cards.
Training days will be held so librarians know each other’s buildings – and fake emergencies will be staged to ensure it all works.
Jörg Räuber from the German National Library welcomed the agreement and said that “work can now begin on bringing together practical skills and all-round local knowledge.”
Libraries have fallen victim to accidents in Germany in the past, such as when the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar caught fire in 2004, and when the Cologne city archive literally fell into a hole, in 2009, taking with it countless cultural treasures.