Austrian World Heritage Site Melk Abbey is being restored

Restoration work has begun in an Austrian library containing a hundred thousand historical books. The book hoard at Melk Abbey is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and it has a remarkable collection.

Some of the manuscripts that are removed, cleaned and repaired date back to the year 900.

Restoring the main hall, twelve rooms and their shelves has been done in stages. In doing so, Peter Griebaum, restoration site manager at Melk Abbey said there are some more modern adjustments being put in place.

"A rotating shelf system will be installed, on the floor you can see a steel construction, steel girders which support the rotating shelves."

Herbal books have been used throughout the centuries. Some of them date back to the 16th century and need special attention from book restorers such as Bettina Draxter who has to sew individual pages back into the book and repair the covers.

"This book is covered in pigskin leather, which is one of the most durable materials, because pigskin is thick and firm, nevertheless over the centuries it rubs off and imperfections occur, that's what we repair."

Visitors can still stroll through the rooms whilst the books are stored in the basement for now.

In the future the new shelving units won't be in contact with the damp walls, preserving the books for many more years to come.