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Author loses 5000 books in garden shed fire

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Apr 16, 2012, 9:13pm Top

Apr 16, 2012, 10:55pm Top

One of the theologians at the university department I study at: Lost 200 000 dollars worth of rare books in the 2011 brisbane floods - He lives next door to me on the river.


Apr 16, 2012, 11:42pm Top

I would have had to jump into the fire.

Apr 17, 2012, 12:10am Top

Talk about putting all your first editions in one basket...

Edited: Apr 17, 2012, 2:14am Top

>2 d-b:
d-b I sympathise greatly with him. I live within a kilometre of you and your neighbour. I would be devastated to lose a collection that has been almost 40 years in the making. I was surrounded, but fortunately not directly affected by the flood this time. Not so lucky in the 1974 flood - lost all my books then, but minuscule collection at that stage.

Those outside Brisbane, Australia can get some idea of the devastating floods that affected our city in January 2011 from these sites:



The first site has fascinating before and after aerial pictures (slide cursor across picture) but they were taken after the water had dropped by over a metre. The second site has my personal pics of the flood.

Apr 17, 2012, 5:20am Top

>5 wcarter: Yeah was a shame. I didn't know him at the time or I would have tried to help him out. I lived at the bottom of Durham street during the floods, in an old old Queenslander. The water came halfway into the second story! Luckily i am a poor young student so my folio library is still relatively small - and the few grands worth of random texts i have amassed were easily transported to a neighbours dry haven.

Apr 17, 2012, 8:52am Top

And presumably these losses were not insured?

Must have been truly heartbreaking.

We must all move to higher ground and build our sheds from brick.

Apr 17, 2012, 9:32am Top

Bonfire of the Vanities? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonfire_of_the_vanities

I really feel for this guy. Can you imagine if this happened to you? I may go back to paperback. ;)

Apr 17, 2012, 9:31pm Top

In 1994 a caretaker accidentally wiped out the Central Library and Record Office in Norwich, England, when he set off a gas explosion; the resultant damage from fire and water (hosepipes) was hailed as the country's greatest loss of knowledge - books and irreplaceable historic documents - since the Second World War. Or possibly the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
I'm not sure what the final toll was. I think that while the great majority of water-damaged documents were saved - or are still in the process of being saved - at least 100,000 books were lost, as was a USAAF memorial library.

It did wonders for the fledgling Disaster Recovery industry.

Apr 18, 2012, 3:21am Top

Water damage from a fire hose, or even dropping a book into a swimming pool, is different to flood damage. Floods are dirty.
Try dropping a book you hate into the dirtiest mud puddle you can find, then add extra mud and a touch of sewage (our local sewage plant was flooded - use your imagination!). Then trample on book for 24 hours (turbulent current). Then remove from muddy puddle. It becomes a sodden stinking mess and the paper returns to its roots as pulp. Books cannot be salvaged in any way.
Books doused in clean water for a brief period can be carefully dried page by page then put into a press to regain their shape, and they can come back to about 90% of original quality if given enough attention and time.
Even with fire, tightly packed books burn poorly and I have seen books survive with merely singed spines when all furniture in the room was destroyed. This when a friend's apartment caught fire a few years ago.
Have any members of FSD lost collections due to fire, flood, cyclone, hurricane etc.?

Apr 18, 2012, 4:04am Top

>10 wcarter:

I lost everything I owned in hurricane Katrina except the clothes on my back pretty much. I could have lost more than that though I suppose.

Apr 18, 2012, 5:44am Top

>10 wcarter:

I have not , but I like to read books by this subject. bibliophile talk about the experience of losing all their collections, because of war. or revolution..etc.

Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 9:11am Top

I lost many, many comics years ago due to a flood. They weren't all very valuable in terms of dollars, but my brother and I had had many of them for a long time as we grew up reading them. It was very sad :(

Apr 18, 2012, 11:57am Top

> 10 Sadly, yes, I have lost books to a flood; about 200, including most of my FS collection (37 volumes at the time). It was only a relatively small flood, but mud and sewage are mud and sewage even if they aren't with you all that long (and it didn't help that b******s in 4X4s kept driving at speed down the street outside raising waves that swept the vile brew back into the house).

I've just noticed that the coming weekend will be the fourteenth anniversary of our flood. Desperate as we are for rain in my part of the UK, I hope it doesn't all decide to fall at once as it did in '98 !

Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 3:24pm Top

‘garden shed fire’: Could boldface escape?

Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 6:16pm Top

I think losing something you really care about, although material is still depressing. We get many tornadoes where we live, and I know possibly one day all my books will be destroyed in the blink of an eye. Natural disasters are so humbling... the closest I got to destroying a few of my books was wasting a whole tall glass of water on the floor where I had some Folios stacked, I was able to get to it quickly (put some typing paper between the pages and then stack them to act like a weight and then air dry the slipcases, you can't tell they been damaged by water) but it really got me to thinking how much water (a life saver) is an enemy of books.

Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 6:42pm Top

>11 Thulean:
Thulean that's terrible! Losing valued books is one thing, but losing everything - that's really not nice at all.
>14 phoenixmemnon:,13
Phoenixmemnon and tag83 also have sympathy for losing so many books. Floods don't look so bad when the water is high, but the mud and smell afterwards are horrendous!

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