Only one per cent of the National Library’s eight million items – including rare books, etchings and maps – is properly stored. But a massive restoration project called Clean Sweep plans preserve 50,000 titles and the public is invited to watch.

In the musty west wing of the National Library, nicknamed “the chimney” for its potential to go up in flames, a crisis quickly becomes apparent. There’s not enough storage space, many books are filthy or falling apart and there is plenty of back-catalogue work still to be done.

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