Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year!

2011 was a heck of a year.  In 2010 we moved about a million library items, sometimes 3 or 4 times, accommodating the Google project and emptying the Ivy Stacks facility to allow for the renovation.  In early 2011 we started to bring the stuff back up to Charlottesville from the storage sites in Orange, VA and Richmond.  We initially moved as much as we could to processing stations in Alderman Library and a rented space on Linden Ave. in C'ville.  We bar coded at least 300,000 items after searching the catalog and replacing the item ID with the bar code number.  We then sorted by size, put the materials in appropriate boxes, and waited for construction to be completed.  Spacesaver completed the project in late June, 2011, on time and on budget.  (Gasps of relief from yours truly.)  In mid-July we had Chris Brennan from GFA train us on the Library Archival System (LAS) used to track the placement of materials on the shelves (thanks, Chris.  Great job!) and then we just 'had at it.'  We established a pipeline of stuff coming from Orange/Richmond, going to Alderman/Linden, then moved again to Ivy Stacks for final shelving.  A few tweaks along the way and the status is so far so good.  The current count is 534,704 items on the shelves at Ivy, tucked away by size in 31,890 acid free trays.  That's some pretty good work.

All this good work was treated to a taste of success just in the past few weeks.  Before Christmas, and then earlier today, I was perusing the requests in ILLiad, looking for requested items that normally would have been at Ivy.  Each time I found one such request.  I then looked to see if we had accessioned that item back onto a shelf at Ivy.  Lo and behold, both times the item was on a shelf and, praise <insert deity here>, we were actually able to retrieve it and deliver it to the patron.  So, it's all coming together.

Still lots of work in handling materials and integrating our catalog with the ILLiad request modules with the LAS.  But I am very hopeful that this project can transition from a massive mobilization of time, staff and money into a manageable workflow that lives up to the high standards of the UVa Library.  So, to everyone who has helped with project and to all of you who have an interest, here is to a good New Year in 2012 that will result in something good that continues many, many years into the future.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


While I am pleased with the press coverage the Ivy Stacks project has received over the past several weeks, the media continues to use words that I (unsuccessfully) discourage.  Tops on this list is the word 'storage' as in 'Ivy Stacks is a remote storage facility.'  In the library world we prefer the term 'shelving' facility.  It's much more librarian-ish.  Wal-Mart stores stuff for distribution.  Libraries shelve stuff for circulation.  Ivy Stacks is definitely part of the UVa Library system, not a place to simply stash stuff to get it out of sight.

Notice I use the word facility to describe the building.  Many people, including our friends in the media, often also use the word warehouse.  Ouch.  Warehouse has such a static, dormant, kind of a sense of 19th Century abandonment feel to it.  The Ivy Stacks facility is a working, active place.  Who wants to put money into a warehouse, especially in an academic setting with tight budgets?  A facility on the other hand implies a credible, worthwhile investment, which is much more appropriate to describe what Ivy Stacks is.  So I never use the word warehouse to describe Ivy Stacks but let's face it--it looks a lot like a warehouse so that's the word people use. 

All that said, thanks go out to the UVa Alumni magazine for their coverage of the Ivy Stacks retrofit.  Despite some of the their choice of vocabulary (however they often got it right), they were kind and accurate in their story, and they have a really good photographer.  Check it out at .

Quick update--we will have accessioned item number 500,000 by the end of the week.  Not bad for 4 months work.  I can kind of see what might be something like a light at the end of the tunnel. Wait, it just went out due to the holidays.