UI Libraries staff will move more than 1 million items to new location
Friday, January 29, 2016
high-bay shelving
UI Libraries' new storage facility, slated to open in January 2017, will feature high-bay shelving, which uses vertical space to maximize capacity. Photo courtesy of UI Libraries.

UI Libraries is equipping a new storage facility to house items that rarely circulate. To prepare for the move, items stored at the current Libraries Annex will be unavailable for retrieval beginning January 2016. However, users may access another copy of a stored item through UBorrow.

In July, once construction is complete and shelving is in place, staff will begin to move more than 1 million items to the new location. The facility is slated to open in January 2017.

The move will occur in phases, allowing staff to take items from regular shelving to the new, high-bay shelving. High-bay shelving uses vertical space to maximize storage capacity, utilizing retrieval trays that hold items of similar height.

What materials are affected?

Items currently in storage will still be visible in UI Libraries’ Smart Search, but they will be tagged as available only through Interlibrary Loan.

How to access stored items?
Use UBorrow.

During the transition, items will be sorted and arranged in the trays. Locating a particular item during this process will be difficult; as a result, these items will be available only through Interlibrary Loan. UI library staff recommend using UBorrow to obtain a copy of a stored item from the university's partner CIC libraries.

Through UBorrow, users can search more than 90 million books from the collections of 15 research libraries. Users can request and receive books within one week from the libraries of the Big Ten Universities, plus the University of Chicago.

Why offsite storage?

The flood of 2008 forced the University of Iowa Libraries to move thousands of books to dry ground. UI Libraries staff spent hours hauling books out of the Main Library to a temporary storage facility in an existing, off-campus warehouse on the east side of Iowa City. 

Facility facts

60,000 square feet

Maximum capacity of 4.8 million items

Shelves are 22 feet high

Retrieval system uses specially designed equipment with laser guides

Items retrieved and delivered to campus by request Monday through Friday

Reading room available by appointment for researchers planning to examine large quantities of items

Since then, UI Libraries has monitored the collection there, making the best of a facility that was never designed to hold books. Book storage facilities must be equipped, for example, with basic climate controls to prevent mold damage.

Preparation of the new facility on the east side of Iowa City has begun and will be complete by July 2016. The new Libraries Annex will initially hold 1 million items and have a maximum capacity of 4.8 million items.

All items will be stored on trays, organized by size. The shelving units, 22 feet in height, will be accessible with a cherry picker specially designed for tray retrieval and guided by lasers that track lines on the floor.

The building will be equipped with climate control appropriate for book storage, as well as a separate cold-storage unit to house fragile rare materials, film, and audio tape. There will also be a reading room for users who have a specific research need for large numbers of volumes held off-site.