I attended two sessions on Storage facilities at ALA. One of them was entitled “Planning for the Worst, Disaster Preparedness for High Density Storage.” I hoped to be able to use what I learned there to help with the Emergency Plan that Craig is working on for the Offsite Storage Facility. The focus of the session was more directed to being sure that your high density storage facility has built in sufficient fire suppression to meet the needs of your facility, so in effect, we’d already done that. One takeaway though was about how other libraries are using High Density Storage to store their rare books. A common strategy is to put the rare material at between 3 and 10 feet off the floor so it is accessible by step stool or reaching for it from the floor. This would allow you to remove that material quickly without having to use the gruelingly slow fork lift to go up and down the aisles and up and down the 35 foot stacks to pull out the most valuable material that has been stored in the facility. We haven’t got plans to store any rare material at Offsite as yet, but I will keep this in mind as we go forward. (I had an opportunity to privately gently correct another library who said they were to about to install the “first high bay mobile shelving units used by a library”. They are, in fact, third, behind us and UVA.)
In the second Offsite Storage session, the LAMA Storage Discussion Group meeting, the first part of the session had Brenda Johnson and Carolyn Walters, both of Indiana University Libraries, talking about their plans for the CIC Shared Storage Repository. The CIC is the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, and they represent “the countries top-tier research institutions” including Univ. of Chicago, Univ. of Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, Univ. of Indiana, and others. Their planning for a shared repository mirrors our involvement in ASERLs similar movement. Their goals include
- aggregate secure and preserve rich print resources
- ensure CIC scholars have timely access to resources
- realize economies of scale through collective action
- help reclaim local resources: space, funds and staff time
- integrate CIC libraries into emerging national network of collectively managed resources
They will do this by collecting, assembling, validating, preserving and securely storing journal runs that will serve the collective. The cost of the project will be shared among the participating libraries, $25,000 per library per year for 10 years, and then $2,500 per year thereafter. Collective savings is estimated to be about 13Million over the first five years and growing to more than $20million in subsequent years. I have handouts if anyone wants to see them.
The second part of this session was about the HathiTrust and was presented by Tom Teper of the University of Illinios-Urbana-Champaign. He shared slides on the program that were similar to slides I’d seen recently on a webinar on the subject. He discussed the overlap of the things that have been scanned into digital form and are available on the HathiTrust and asked, as has been asked before, “how many copies of these common titles do we need?” His closing thoughts: the HathiTrust gives us opportunities to rethink what is retained locally, what the missions are for different institutions, and allows us to manage local growth and costs that might otherwise be used to expand facilities. He argument was provocative and engendered much discussion, especially after he said that a library’s determination to hang onto print was “nostalgic”. He quickly backed away from that statement, but it was a lively discussion nonetheless.
On the Commons: Roz has already posted about the ALA RUSA session on libraries that have implemented commons. It was very interesting to see all of the different ways that libraries have interpreted what is meant by an Information Commons. There are libraries that “co-locate” desks so that people can be pointed to the direction of where they will receive the needed services. In other libraries, a single desk has been installed that tries to be all things to all people. In this second iteration, cross training becomes a big issue and can lead to service failure without constant attention and opportunity for feedback.
It occurred to me that its a question of determining “Do our users want our Information Commons to be more like a food court, or an emergency room with a triage desk? Which is less intimidating? Which will best meet their needs?” I also wonder how and if these libraries have done any assessment on whether they are doing better meeting patron needs before or after their transition. Maybe there is not only one answer. The library that had combined IS help with Reference help discussed at length how they had included a “memorandum of understanding” between all of the services before they joined into a single desk. Such a document should include expected levels of service, what will be funded by whom, how many hours of operation are going to be staffed by which department, etc. I think this is a great idea and will help to define as well as reassure all of the participants in this shared environment.
It was a busy few days at ALA. It was something for everyone, and especially for me. From the conference sessions, exhibit floor, Cafe du Monde and Bourbon Street, I really enjoyed this conference and this town. It was exhausting and exhilarating all at once.