Offsite storage

21 Jun

With my new role managing the library offsite storage, I have discovered a much keener interest in how other people approach storage projects.

As such I thought I’d share a few thoughts on our current offsite store refurbishment. And if you have anyone who’s willing to talk to me on this topic tell me!

Around 5 years ago our University Property Campus Services section bought the library an external warehouse, to meet the load of books overflowing in open access spaces in libraries. The warehouse purchased was previously used for storage, however was rather dirty and the mezzanine floor was not set up for heavy loads. So we couldn’t make best use of all the space available.

Last year it was very exciting to hear the University had set aside funds for a refurbishment of this building so it could be of more use. This will include making storage space cleaner and with reliable heating/cooling, installing a welcoming visitor space and almost doubling the storage shelving.

However what this has meant is that we have had to move everything out of our current store whilst the work happens. I have learnt that it’s hard to hire a space large enough, with suitable shelving, for a short period (5 months) in Melbourne.

Palm tree adding to bookstacks

Palm tree adding to bookstacks

Luckily for us, the Melbourne Theatre Company have moved to a new space. Their old warehouse covered a huge footprint, and is now being used as our temporary store. The retrievers enjoy amongst the stacks of moved items, a very tall fake palm tree, a huge white wall for filming backgrounds against and numerous threatening handwritten signs about what would happen to you if you took a costume without signing it out appropriately.

Background white wall in old theatre warehouse

Background white wall in old theatre warehouse

We hold 6.5 km of books in this facility at present, so moving itself took over 2 weeks of packing and unpacking.

We currently run a closed access offsite store, with retrievals brought to the main campus each day. They can be forwarded onto other campuses by mail too. We had to keep this service running through the move of items, and are very grateful to Atlantis (company who moved for us) for their patience as we did this.

Come the end of the refubishment we will then need to pack everything up and move it back again. I’m hoping that that may be at a less busy time of the year where we could reduce the number of days we retrieve items, perhaps not. The need for space on campus is so urgent that I need to open as soon as possible.

Loading area for temporary store

Loading area for temporary store

Whilst the building refurbishment is going on my Stores staff are helping me write up a plan for the amount of new items we can take into the new shelving once we’re open. Then the fun begins scheduling which branches can offload their material first, and when!

Around the same time the new CARM2 store is opening in which we also have some storage planned; so after years of no offsite storage, suddenly we will have 2 options. Everyone, from the shelvers, to the managers, to the students are hanging out for a time where they can get to open access material shelved in order without any ‘overflow’ areas to trawl through.

My next challenge will be to include everyone’s concerns in determining what would move off campus. Do any of you have policies you can send me on what material is relocated offsite from your libraries? That is how you make decisions about what material can be ‘deselected’ (or insert other politically correct term for weeding!)

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6 Responses to “Offsite storage”

  1. Penny June 21, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    We don’t have a large “stack” – we’re pressed for space too. But the policy for things being considered for the stack as opposed to being eliminated or sold on the book sale trolley is
    a) is it a New Zealand publication or about NZ stuff?
    b) is held anywhere else(i.e. available via interloan?
    c) is it a seminal work or classic?

  2. Ruth Baxter June 21, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    Cool. What’s your def for seminal/classic? Bit controversial over our way. One lecturers junk appears to another lecture’s treasure.

  3. apubliclibrarian June 21, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    mpow which a public library has two stacks – one is a state of the art electronic stack for local history stuff, the other is off site storage. The off site storage is meant to be for classic works of fiction and nonfiction worth keeping. Definitions for classic and seminal is a constant source of conflict between staff, and deselecting is almost a hanging offence if your supervisor doesn’t agree with what is deselected. Weeding is done under the cloak of mystery and sneakyness..e.g. item status changed to mending for a couple of months..then it somehow appears at the book sale.

    • Ruth Baxter June 21, 2010 at 10:54 am #

      LOL! We ned to have tonnes of discussion with faculties involved, so no secrecy for us.

  4. snail June 21, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

    That’s an impressive exercise in resource management. I used to work on a loading dock and have some familiarity working in such spaces, even though I’m purely online these days. I remain of such efforts, thinking too of the massive amount of shelf space the Bodleian has undeground.

    • Ruth Baxter June 22, 2010 at 1:31 am #

      At one stage we were going to turn our underground carpark into a store. However like OXford there is a danger of flooding when it rains …

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