High-Density Off-Site Storage in North American Research Libraries

Seaman, Scott
January 2004
IATUL Annual Conference Proceedings;2004, Vol. 14, preceding p1
Conference Proceeding
Limited space for new building and soaring construction costs have prevented many American research libraries from constructing significant on-campus bookstack additions. At the same time, faculty and student demands for networked information have required libraries to become information technology gateways. Space once designated for bookstacks has been converted to accommodate computer workstations and instructional activities. One strategy to open library space is to move rarely used collections off site. Currently, twenty-two ARL libraries operate environmentally-controlled, high- density remote storage facilities. The University of Colorado's facility was opened in 2001 and has the capacity to house nearly one and a half million items in only 880 square meters by shelving books by size on eight-meter tall shelving. Because the facility is thirty-six kilometers from campus, materials are retrieved upon patrons' electronic requests and are delivered to the library daily. Such storage facilities provide the foundation for renovation of existing on-campus library buildings for twenty-first century services. High-density off-site storage permits valuable on-campus space to be repurposed for high-demand services. With millions of volumes being moved off site, many research libraries will soon have significant portions of their collections in storage, transforming them from just-in-case storage into just-in-time delivery of bound research materials.


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