Destroyed Libraries

Libraries are fragile things – temporary, only maintained as long as human civilization and Fortune will them to continue. Basically, any library that no longer exists is a destroyed library, whether from choice (the function of the library is no longer needed), from bad luck (fire, flood, the bombs of war, the passage of time) or from more malign causes (deliberate destruction for political purpose).

Some libraries suffer from more interesting destruction (more malign causes or simply worse luck) or are merely better documented in their ruin. Here are a few more dramatic Destroyed Libraries (although most of these are no longer beautiful libraries, they are arresting nevertheless):


7901 (tvillingar)

The Sarajevo Library in Bosnia and Herzegovina, before, during and after its destruction in 1992 by Serbs during the Bosnian War for Independence.



A library in Noda Mura, Iwate, Japan destroyed by the tsunami of March 2011.



The library at Holland House in London, England, mostly destroyed by the German blitz in September 1940. This iconic photograph demonstrates that the urge to browse and read lives on.



A fire at the historic Anna Amalia Library in Weimar, Germany destroyed some 60,000 books and damaged 118,000 others in 2004. The library building has been restored.



The basement of the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 filled it with eight feet of water, followed by slimy mold. The 40,000 square-foot basement, together with the basement of Jones Hall across the road, had stored 1.4 million print volumes and 1.5 million microform items. A disaster management company was called in, but only 210,000 important print volumes, 18,000 reels of microfilm and 629,711 archival items were recovered, in varying states of useable condition (the materials above ground were saved). Don’t store your books below grade!



A burnt-out French public library, after rioters set fire to it in 2007.