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Millions of Rare Russian Books Are Burning

A disaster of unprecendented scale.

A fire in the library of the Academic Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences. (Kommersant Photo/Kommersant via Getty Images)

MOSCOW (TheBlaze/AP) — A fire at one of Russia's largest public libraries has been raging for more than 17 hours, destroying thousands of rare documents.

A fire in the library of the Academic Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences on January 31 in Russia, Moscow. (Kommersant Photo/Kommersant via Getty Images)

The Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences in south-west Moscow went up in flame late Friday. The emergency situations ministry said in a statement on Saturday that more than 200 firefighters have been trying to put out the blaze ever since.

Quartz reported that the library, founded in 1918, houses some 14 million books, including rare ancient Slavic texts and U.N. and League of Nations documents.

A fire in the library of the Academic Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences. (Kommersant Photo/Kommersant via Getty Images)

Yuri Pivovarov, the director of the institute, described the fire as a disaster. He said in remarks on Russian television the extent of the damage was still unclear but the main storage which contained rare medieval Slavic texts did not seem to have been affected.

Firefighters struggle against the blaze in the library of the Academic Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences. (Kommersant Photo/Kommersant via Getty Images)

Pivarov said only a fraction of the collection has been digitalized.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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