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Fire guts Edinburgh's AI library

40 years of work lost

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Staff and students at the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh are trying to come to terms with a fire which ripped through one of its buildings, destroying 40 years of work housed in its library.

The blaze destroyed around a quarter of the School of Informatics, regarded as one of the UK's leading departments for research in Computer Science.

There were no serious casualties and nearby student residences were saved. However, the library has been destroyed and along with it, 40 years of work and study. Although there are copies of much of the work, it's still not clear how much has been lost since staff are not allowed to enter the building until it is declared safe.

In a statement the university said: "We have also lost the Artificial Intelligence Library - a collection of AI literature unique in the world, an irreplaceable archive accumulated over the 40 years of Edinburgh's leadership in the field, since its beginning in the 1960s.

"Although we have lost this archival collection, and many researchers have lost their personal archives, most of our current research data is stored electronically. We have recently rolled out a state of the art distributed computing environment, and, in this respect at least, we are well placed for disaster recovery," it said.

Along with the library, the fire destroyed a load of kit including more than 150 workstations.

Informatics at Edinburgh brings together Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, and Cognitive Science. The department is normally used by 300 students and members of staff each day. ®

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