In addition to the heartbreaking loss of life in Lac-Mégantic, the community is mourning the destruction of its collective history — the town library that housed its archives.

"At first, I said, ‘Oh, books, we can buy some more.’ But the archivals, that was the worst part for me," says Diane Roy, the chair of the library’s board of directors.

"For me it was special … I really, really believe in culture and literature," she told CBC's Marika Wheeler.

Roy first heard of the library’s destruction at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday.

It was a call from her mother, who lives directly behind the library.

"She said, 'A train exploded in front of my house,'" Roy recalled.

For Roy, who fought to have the library created 23 years ago, the loss is personal.

Some of her family’s records were included in the library archives and are now destroyed.

Roy had donated her uncle’s handwritten letters from the Second World War, in the hope that they would be well-protected.

"I said to myself, 'I won’t keep that at home, maybe there will be a fire,'" she said, choking back tears.

Roy had hoped that the grandchildren who were never able to meet their grandfather would some day be able to learn about his life through his letters.

Despite the loss, Roy remains optimistic.

"The library, we can start it over again," she said.