Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Nebraska's Library Depository Retrieval Facility

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Nebraska's Library Depository Retrieval Facility

Article excerpt


Beginning with Harvard University in the 1980s, the use of high-density storage for library materials has steadily increased over the past two and a half decades (Nitecki and Kendrick, p. 1). This paper looks at design and implementation issues in building a facility at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in 2004-2005, adding to the expanding body of knowledge and experience in the planning, funding, building, operation, and staffing of such facilities. A new element in the UNL Libraries' delivery of service is the Library Depository Retrieval Facility (LDRF). Completed in June 2005, Nebraska's Library Depository Retrieval Facility is an example of a recently constructed high-density storage facility among academic libraries in the United States.

The UNL Libraries system is the only comprehensive research library in Nebraska. Its mission is to ensure that Nebraskans have access to an organized collection of information resources, to provide assistance needed to use library resources and services effectively, and to preserve information for future generations. The University Libraries (Don L. Love Memorial Library and six branch libraries), together with the Marvin and Virginia Schmid Law Library, have a collection of nearly three million print volumes and more than 44,000 current serial subscriptions. The branches serve a wide array of academic pursuits: architecture, biological sciences, chemistry, engineering, geology, math, music, physics, agriculture, and consumer science on City Campus and East Campus in Lincoln. The UNL Libraries serve the entire university community, visiting scholars, and countless other students and researchers across the state and region by blending traditional services with today's digital library innovations.

Background and Need

By the early 1990s, the UNL Libraries book stacks were filled to over 90% capacity. In many areas of the collection, adding new materials or re-shelving existing materials required shifting the current collection to make space. To ease the shelving crisis, the Libraries had also located over 190,000 volumes off-site in two rented warehouses that would be filled within a few years, thus requiring additional storage space. While the number of electronic resources available for purchase has increased annually, e-resources still represent less than half of the Libraries' acquisitions budget. The UNL Libraries still purchase approximately 40,000 volumes a year, and as a result have a continued need for increased shelving to house printed materials.

High-density storage costs are on average considerably less than the expense of building a traditional library building. Examples include Orbis's (a coalition of academic libraries in Oregon and Washington) construction cost of $3.75 per volume for a high-density facility, as opposed to $13.39 for traditional library space, and Yale's report of off-site storage being 1/10th as expensive as traditional library open stack space (Kohl, pp. 247-248). Shelving capacity in a traditional library is approximately 75,000 volumes in 10,000 square feet of space. With high-density shelving, more volumes can be housed in significantly less space. Studies done in Minnesota indicating a 40% gain in storage capacity when using high-density models (Kohl, p. 247). Another author reports the efficiency of high-density storage to be more than seven times that of conventional library construction (Seaman, p. 94).

Research on other storage options led UNL Libraries to the conclusion that a high-density, climate-controlled facility was the best choice for long-term preservation of materials. A high-density storage facility located on the East campus of UNL, holding approximately one million volumes, was conceived to provide the Libraries with enough capacity to shelve materials throughout the rest of the system for the next 10 years. The project originally began as a University of Nebraska system-wide project for a shared storage facility among the four campuses (two located in Omaha, one in Lincoln, one in Kearney). …

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