Last Wednesday a unique device for restoring and conserving damaged documents was put into operation at the State Archive of Khmelnytsky Oblast. “This invaluable tool was presented to us by the US Embassy to Ukraine,” director of the archive Petro Slobodianiuk told The Day. He predicts that the device, valued at $27,000, will work well for many years. Unfortunately, the story leading up to this gift is sad. On April 10, 2003, a fire started at the Franciscan Church in Kamyanets-Podilsky, the premises of the archive’s depository. Later it was recognized as a European-scale humanitarian disaster. “The Franciscan Church contained five extremely valuable collections on the history of Podillia gubernia, a total of 101,125 items dating to the 18th and 19th centuries. A considerable part of these funds is irretrievably lost, while 35,000 other documents totaling 9 million pages are damaged,” Mr. Slobodianiuk says. While archival specialists were substantiating their urgent need for the device and preparing the technical conditions for its installation in Khmelnytsky, the damaged historical heritage was stored in freezers of the local meat-packing factory. In addition to supplying the archive with the necessary equipment, the Americans organized a seminar and training for employees of Ukraine’s archives, with an emphasis on fire safety rules, reports The Day’s Mykhailo VASYLEVSKY.