Books Return to Restored German Library

(AP Photo/Jens Meyer) :: Workers sort books into the shelves at the 16th century rococo-style hall of the historical Duchess Anna Amalia library in Weimar, Germany, Monday, Oct. 1, 2007. The library is expected to be re-opened on Oct. 24, 2007. A fire hit one of the most precious libraries with a collection of some 850,000 books on Sept. 2, 2004 destroying some 50,000 books. The 300-year-old library in Weimar, the capital of German classical culture, is an UNESCO world heritage site.

Updated: 10/1/2007

WEIMAR, Germany

Thousands of restored books returned Monday to the shelves of a newly renovated historic library in eastern Germany that was gutted by a fire more than three years ago.

The Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar reopens Oct. 24 with a ceremony led by German President Horst Koehler, after several years of painstaking restoration and upgrading of the library's $18.2 million security systems.

A fire on Sept. 2, 2004, tore through the roof and top floor of the 16th-century rococo palace, which houses the library in the city where the nation's most revered writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, spent much of his life.

''The library has been restored to the condition that (it) was in at the time of Goethe's death'' in 1832, said Michael Knoche, the library's director. He added that modern technology — including a state-of-the art sprinkler system — was hidden beneath the rococo facade.

Of the roughly 50,000 books destroyed in the blaze, some 16,000 have been restored, while replacements have been found for another 12,500, Knoche said. Restoration for the books alone cost an estimated $95.4 million, he said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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