The Wellington Street building is expected to remain closed to its 275 employees until Wednesday as fire crews continue to pump water from the lower floors. ((CBC))

A broken water pipe flooded the main building of Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa early Tuesday morning, closing the building and causing a small amount of damage to some books.

Firefighters were called to the building shortly after 2 a.m. when a pipe broke near the men's washroom on the second floor of the Wellington Street building, setting off an alarm.

The building was to be closed to its 275 employees until Wednesday as fire crews continue to pump water from the lower floors where some books are kept and where the water collected.

An Asian Heritage Month concert scheduled for Tuesday night was cancelled because of the flooding. The concert was intended to raise money for Burmese cyclone and Chinese earthquake victims.

The water caused "minimal damage" to the collection, said Doug Rimmer, assistant deputy minister of programs and services at Library and Archives Canada.


Firefighters were called to the building after an alarm went off around 2 a.m. Tuesday. ((Stéphane Beaudoin/CBC))

"A small number of items are wet, not totally soaked through, and we'll begin preservation on those immediately," he said, adding that there is no indication any items have been lost beyond repair and most of the items affected were 20th-century books.

Library and Archives spokesman Peter Levick said the damaged books are mainly reference copies that researchers consult or that are sent out on inter-library loans. He added that there are water spots on some, which are being air-dried. The more badly damaged books have been frozen and sent to the Library and Archives Canada preservation centre in Gatineau for repair.

Library and Archives Canada also keeps historical books as well as film, drawings, other artwork and archival documents, but the more fragile items are mostly kept at other locations such as a special preservation centre in Gatineau, Que.

The Wellington Street building used to suffer chronic problems with water damage from a leaky roof. According to the 2003 auditor general's report, the building had suffered 116 "environmental incidents" since 1988, including 60 incidents of floods or excessive heat that damaged 30,000 documents.

However, it hasn't had flooding problems since the roof was repaired in 2004, Levick said.