The Fire at the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences is Extinguished

One more attempt to summarize information from different sources including my colleagues’ own observations.  It seems that by now the fire is mostly extinguished, smoke isn’t coming out of the building almost at all.  The water has been pumped out.  The firemen will probably stay at the place to clear the debris, but it was said the experts had already begun their work.  The causes of the fire are still unclear, there are a lot of versions being discussed, but none of them looks reasonable enough.

The smoke that was inside the building has been sucked out, but the walls haven’t cooled yet, so not all the rooms are accessible.  What has survived with a high probability are the publishing department with the typography, the accounts and planning departments, the cafeteria ;-), the German Historical Institute and the Franco-Russian Centre, and the paper catalogues of the library—both the public catalogue and the service catalogue.  What has probably survived too, but with not so high probability, are the personnel department and the directorate.  What has certainly burned are the research departments and the specialized reading rooms with their own book collections; they gave the main ‘food’ to the fire.  The fate of the servers is still unknown, including the antiquarian Hewlett-Packard mini-computer where the electronic catalogue was functioning that was the basic part of all the library’s infrastructure.  It’s also unclear if the main book depository has suffered from the fire and to what extent.  The researchers will continue their work at home, our salary won’t be reduced.  The research work and informational work will be continued.  It was also decided to increase the number of guards this week and to organize additional volunteer patrols of the Institute’s employees.  It’s too early to discuss the further perspectives: there are a lot of potential opportunities, but a good question is if at least some of them will be actually realized.

Prime-minister Dmitrii Medvedev has ordered the vice-premier Arkady Dvorkovich ‘to prepare suggestions on the restoration of the library of the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences’.  We are waiting for the results.

A petition to save the Institute has been published in the Internet (in Russian).  We’ll be really grateful for your signatures 🙂