March 17, 2003

Woodruff to install compact shelving

By Michael Terrazas

Summer 2003 will be anything but lazy at Woodruff Library, as staff gear up for a major renovation project that will install compact, movable shelving on the fourth floor of the stack tower.

When it is finished, the work will increase shelving capacity on the fourth floor by nearly 65 percent, but getting there will take some patience and cooperation from the University community. During the project, all fourth-floor holdings (some 150,000 volumes in call numbers QA–Z) will be moved to the Materiel Center at 1762 Clifton Road, and library staff are working to enhance the existing retrieval and delivery system (all campus libraries, including Woodruff, already store some holdings at the Materiel Center) to handle the increased volume.

“The installation of compact shelving in the Woodruff stack tower is a wonderful way of greatly expanding shelf capacity for print collections that continue to grow along with the many new electronic information resources,” said Joan Gotwals, vice provost and director of University Libraries. “It helps us keep the print material close to the main library service areas, faculty offices and classrooms rather than in off-site storage.”

Compact shelving already is being used with success in Woodruff’s government documents section and in the Heilbrun Music and Media Library. According to project manager Charles Forrest, compact shelving offers the library an economical, long-term solution to providing continued on-site growth space for its print collection.

“We picked the fourth floor because, of all the materials in the stack tower, these were the least used, the least crowded,” Forrest said. “It’s also a shorter elevator ride [for the workers].”

The project, which will begin May 16, won’t be completed until at least winter 2004, Forrest added. Until then, faculty and students needing materials normally held on the fourth floor—mostly science-related holdings, he said—will need to submit a request for retrieval from the off-site location. The library’s goal is to provide a 24-hour turnaround for these requests, he said. There also are plans to provide a small “consultation space” at the Materiel Center to support on-site study of relocated materials by appointment.

The library has submitted a request to retrofit all six floors of the Woodruff book stacks with compact shelving, but funding only has been secured for this first phase. Subsequent phases will rely less on off-site storage (increased capacity on floors already fitted with compact shelving will be able to accommodate displaced holdings), but Forrest estimated that the University could handle only one such project every two years.

Due to the nature of print collections, which grow every year, storage issues are not likely to go away even after all of the Woodruff stacks are completed. Forrest said he’s run a model—assuming every-other-year renovations and an annual decrease in the growth of print collections (due to increasing prevalence of online holdings)—and by the end of the retrofit in 12 years, the library could be filled to capacity again despite the compact shelving.

“We’re chasing this growth in holdings,” Forrest said. “The goal is keep as much printed material on site as possible.”

Complicating matters is the renovation of Candler Library, which has cost Woodruff shelving space for 250,000 volumes. When Candler is completed this summer, the periodicals collection on Woodruff’s first floor will be moved to Candler’s two-story reading room. Forrest said a library committee is studying how to use the space the library will gain on its first floor.

Finally, Forrest said, Woodruff will use the opportunity afforded by this summer’s construction to improve classroom and study space on the fourth floor. Classrooms along the building’s western face will be moved to the corners, and the center portion will be opened up into a comfortable sitting area with a view of Baker Woodlands.

“The stack tower is pretty utilitarian right now,” Forrest said. “Joan has been interested in making the stacks more inviting.”

Anyone with questions about the Woodruff Library renovation can contact Forrest at
404-727-0137 or via e-mail at






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