A small collection of photos from the LIFE Archives, taken by Thomas Mcavoy, show the sheer awesomeness of librarians.
Pictured in 1951 drying out state library books damaged by fighting the Lewis Cass State Office Building fire in Lansing, Michigan; it was quite the undertaking.
The fire was started by a 19 year-old Naval Reservist who feared being sent to war in Korea and thought that “a little fire” would gain him the probationary status he coveted.
The 1951 disaster destroyed much State property, including some government records. The fire proved an object lesson on the importance of record keeping.
Many documents were unrecoverable and proper inventories didn’t exist.