Vladimir Fortov, the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the fire at the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences in Moscow started late on January 30 and had ravaged the library for much of the next day.
The Emergency Situations Ministry said more than 200 firefighters were working to put out the blaze.
Library director Yury Pivovarov said the fire at the institute where more than 10 million documents and texts are kept is a “disaster.”
He said it not known how much damage has been done but the main archive area that contains rare medieval Slavic texts seems to have escaped destruction.
Pivovarov said only a fraction of the collection has been digitalized.
Fortov was hopeful that some of the destroyed documents could be restored.