Shifting Collections to Maximize Space

We recently completed a two phase project that included a MASSIVE shifting of our collections on the fifth floor. This project was carried through in large part by our Public Services team, Rachel Lilley and Trevor Sandgathe. In this interview, they reflect on the project and what it means for the department and our researchers.


What is your role in SCARC and how long have you worked here?

TS: I am an archivist with SCARC. I help coordinate our public services, arrange and describe collection materials, and oversee our collections storage. I began working at the OSU Special Collections as a student employee in 2007 and have been a staff member since 2010.

RL: Like Trevor, I’m an archivist in SCARC. I’m the other half of the “front of house” Public Services team, so I do a lot of what Trevor already described. I started working at SCARC in April of 2017 (on the 17th), so I’ve been here just over one year.
What was the impetus for the shelf shift project?

So much space to move!

So much space to move!

TS: In the summer of 2017, we found that we were beginning to run out of usable storage space in our Valley Library facilities. As a result, we developed a multi-phase project to make facilities changes to allow for expanded storage and consolidate our existing materials.

RL: This meant that we presented a proposal to Faye Chadwell, University Librarian, for changes to our stacks core that would facilitate a more efficient storage design and allow for room to grow. We were given a fixed sum to implement Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the proposal we presented to Faye.

What were some of the lessons learned in the course of the project?

RL: As the newest employee in SCARC, I’m finding that one of the surprising outcomes of this project is how many more collections I recognize and know a little something about, which is obviously useful in my public services role.

TS: To modify a popular adage, “measure twice, move once” was an important guiding philosophy during this shift (and a lesson we learned the hard way…more than once).

How will it make working in SCARC easier for employees?

Pauling's library shifted and now located next to the other rare books collections

Pauling’s library shifted and now located next to the other rare books collections

RL: I think one of the reasons I was drawn to the archival profession is that I love making order out of chaos. I would never have described our stacks as chaotic prior to this work, but I think both phases of this projects have helped us to arrange materials in a more efficient way, and in a way that makes them easier, and safer, for staff to retrieve. The project also gave us “space” to tackle some general “house-keeping” projects as natural parallels of the physical moving of boxes (e.g. rehousing as necessary, dusting shelves, etc.).

TS: Materials in our 5th floor storage area are now better organized and consolidated, allowing for simpler placement and retrieval of our manuscript and rare book materials.

How will it be better for our researchers?

TS: We should see an overall improvement in our retrieval times which will translate to more efficient research visits for our users. As we continue the project, we should be able to transition materials from our auxiliary storage to our primary storage which will further simplify the retrieval process.

RL: The whole goal of this project was space…well, maybe space, and as a by-product, efficiency. We now have more space, and space that is used better, so we can continue to accept new collections and additions to collections. The more collections we have, the higher the likelihood that we have material that will fit any given patron’s research interest. I think retrieval will also be faster, which I think many of our patrons will appreciate.

Did you find anything fun/weird/random?

An aisle of Pauling, condensed and reorganized

An aisle of Pauling, condensed and reorganized

TS: This project was a trip through SCARC’s history and offered plenty of opportunities to reflect on the work of our predecessors. It was a nice chance to be reminded of some of our lesser-known holdings and to appreciate the volume and quality of work that has gone into making these materials available to the public since the University Archives inception in 1961.

RL: I learned that Tiah can dance. I also have a fuller appreciate for the full breadth and scope of the Linus and Ava Helen Pauling Papers.

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