The National Library has temporarily closed its doors after a huge piece of rotting ceiling fell to the floor last weekend, cultural and library officials said.
The 4-meter-wide hunk of concrete fell Friday morning, shortly before the library was to open at 9 am, said Khlot Vibolla, the library’s director.
The ceiling, made of concrete supported by wooden crossbeams, has been badly damaged by termites, she said.
No one was injured. But if it had fallen a few minutes later, it would undoubtedly have hurt or even crushed people, Khlot Vibolla said.
The official said about 100 readers—schoolchildren, university students, government officials and foreign researchers—use the nearly 80-year-old library daily.
The library, founded by the French colonial government, suffered greatly under the Khmer Rouge regime. From 1975 to 1979, 80 percent of the library’s 325,000 volumes were destroyed and 75 percent of its staff disappeared.
Since then, little has improved. Hang Soth, director-general at the Ministry of Culture, said Monday that officials have submitted proposals to renovate the library to the Ministry of Finance but have received no replies.
“We are very concerned about the safety of the readers, but we don’t know what to do,” he said. “We should be given more money to protect the national heritage.”