Monday, July 2, 2012

It's Done.

It's over.  The Ivy Stacks Retrofit Project is complete.  It's hard to believe. 

Over the past two years we moved about 850,000 items housed in 55,000 boxes at least three times, barcoded almost 400,000 of those items, scanned everything twice into the GFA inventory management system, and shelved them onto 15 carriages of our new Spacesaver Xtend mobile shelving contraption (with three static units).  We were also able to move almost 60,000 books, LPs, gov docs, and bound journals out of our closed stacks in Alderman Library into Ivy to help free up some space there. 

Final numbers (as of June 29, 2012):

Items accessioned:  909,084
Trays used:  61,969
Shelves filled:  5107
Percentage of shelves used: 42%

We began shelving at Ivy on July 20, 2011 so that is 82,644 items/month.  Not a bad effort.

I should probably list all the people who made contributions to this project.  There are many, many people on that list so I won't even try.  I would no doubt neglect to mention someone and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  I will mention one name, though.  Steve Bartlett has worked on this enterprise since Day One begining with moving the materials out of Ivy, then bringing the stuff back, processing the materials to ensure properly located bar codes and then sorting by size, and finally working at Ivy to accession materials onto the shelves.  His effort was magnificent, determined and he would do just about anything to contribute to the success of the project.  Thanks, Steve.  This would not have been done without you.

Now we need to go into operational mode.  It won't be the same as before but I think we will be able to work it out.  To everyone who folded a tray, scanned a bar code, moved a heavy box of books, tied up with string a volume that was falling apart, managed the budget (thanks, Taryn), or simply had a good thought for our success--thank you very much.  As proud as I am of our effort I don't want to do this again.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I thought I had problems

In 1995 when Ivy Stacks first opened there had been a lot of discussion, even controversy, about the wisdom of moving books and other materials out of the library building into an off site shelving facility.  In 2010, when planning for the expansion of shelving capacity at Ivy required closing the facility for 18 months, many of my colleagues didn't think much of the idea.  But it was nothing compared to the remarks the folks at the New York Public Library are hearing ( but this link won't last forever).  I am frankly quite surprised and disappointed at the reactions coming from so many smart, well seasoned researchers.  Geez, NYPL has been moving materials to the ReCAP facility in New Jersey for years and, while the system isn't perfect, neither is the current model.  And considering the alternatives--completely withdrawing seldom used items or allowing them to collect dust (and who knows what else) in unsuitable environmental conditions--moving them to a safe location seems like a pretty responsible thing to do.  Sure, I'd love to have every book in every edition ever published available to everybody who walks in the door of the Library.  But that isn't happening, it has never happened, and it won't happen anytime soon.  I think everyone should take a deep breath, try and think beyond your own self interest, and play that hand that was dealt you as best as you can.  And if anyone can come up with a better plan then don't keep it a secret. 

The numbers as of June 11, 2012:

Items accessioned:  877,059
Trays used: 58,890
Shelves filled: 4,929
Total shelves at Ivy: 12,160
% of shelves filled: 40

I have cautioned in the past that not all shelves are created equal, but this project has really expanded our capacity to retain materials that otherwise might have ended up in a much less desirable, accessible place.  The folks in New York should think about the possible fates of their valued materials.  Sitting in a secure, environmentally controlled building one day away isn't the worst thing that can happen to a book that hasn't been touched in years.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Heading Down the Stretch

You know how, when you move your household to a new home, you know it will be a lot of work  so you get off to a good start with energy and enthusiasm.  You move the couch, the dressers, the tables and chairs, the beds and all the big stuff.  You move all the boxes you have packed up and you begin to think you are about to finish up.  Maybe you need to pack up the kitchen, a few clothes, the pet, etc...and you find that the final 5% of stuff you need to move seems to take up about 95% of your effort.  I'm feeling a little like that now.  We've moved a mountain, then moved it back, and all we have is a few things to put back in place but it seems like it is never ending.  For the past several months I have been telling my staff to put off to the side those boxes or items that will be out of the routine and we will get to them later.  Well, now is later and I am surrounded by loose journals, rivers of government documents, microforms in various formats, oversized materials, and all the stuff I said we would get to 'later.' 

But it's all good.  The crew remains dedicated to seeing the project to the end and there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is getting brighter.  The guys at Ivy Stacks are managing to process a lot of different types of materials and get them onto the shelves and that requires a lot of attention to detail and focus on the task at hand which is no longer nearly as routine as it was when all we had were books (aka 'bound volumes').  We are able to fill our retrieval requests for items that are supposed to be in Ivy much more reliably now that there is so much back in the facility and we are getting good at putting items back where they belong after they have been returned. 

Now for the numbers as of May 7, 2012--

Item accessioned:  826,379
Number of trays:  53,632
Number of shelves used:  4,281
Total number of shelves:  12,160
Percentage of shelves used:  35%

Not all shelves are created equal so I don't immediately jump to the conclusion that we are just over 1/3 capacity, but this is looking pretty dang cool from a collection management perspective.  Now I just need to pack up the kitchen, get the cat ready to go, sweep the floor, turn out the lights (did anyone tell the electric company we were moving?), lock the door, and, wait a minute, what is all this stuff in the yard?  Really?

Peace, everyone, and thanks for your continued good thoughts and positive waves.  Keep it up for just a little while longer.

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Photos

Check out the photos page and scroll to the bottom to see some recent images of items newly shelved at Ivy (they are filling up) and also of our gloriously empty warehouse facility in Orange.

Thanks to Sam German for the photos of Ivy and Scott Shisler for the pix from Orange.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Some time on the morning of Thursday March 29, 2012 we accessioned the 750,000th item onto a shelf in Ivy Stacks.  This is milestone because that is the number of items we thought we were starting out with.  But we still have a lot of materials to go through before we get to the point where we have returned all the stuff we took out.  It is really hard to estimate how much more needs to be returned and one lesson I have learned is that past activity does not necessarily predict the future.   So, with that said, I think we have about 100,000 more items to accession (that includes a lot of materials from the Law Library).  Still plenty of work to be done.

There are a couple of pictures on page 3 of our Flickr account ( that show the ocean of boxes of books we stored in a facility in Orange, VA.  1040 pallets of boxes, each pallet holding 36 boxes.  That's 37,440 boxes of stuff.  This Thursday, April 5, 2012, we will be transporting the last of those boxes back up to Charlottesville.  I thought I would never see the day.  Anyone who ever saw all those boxes thought they would never see this day.   Me and a couple of the crew who have been managing the deliveries are going to go to Orange and find a way to celebrate, probably with a couple of chili dogs and soda.  This isn't peace on Earth, but it is a step in that direction for me.  Life is good!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's been a while

It has been a few weeks since I last posted and the reason for the delay is pretty simple--things are going well and very much in a routine that is successfully getting materials back on the shelves at Ivy Stacks.  We have nearly cleared out all of the 36,000 boxes of stuff we were storing in Orange--only about 2500 more to bring up to C'ville.  We have received all of the Special Collections from Richmond and are currently processing that material and shelving it quickly.  I am especially happy that all of the archival copies of theses and dissertations--24,066 in all--are in this group and now available for use in the Special Collections Library.  One of my priorities is to get the circulating copies back in and made available for check out by our patrons.

The numbers--as of March 14, 2012 we have accessioned 729,058 items back onto the shelves, freshly bar coded and sorted by size into 44,470 acid free trays.  This includes 767 Hollinger boxes that we count as trays.

So, once again, so far so good.  Life is good.  All is well.  I see a light and I don't know if it is the end of the tunnel or the Lord's final destination for me, but I see a light and I am moving toward it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mild Winter

I had anticipated that winter weather would throw a wrench into my delivery schedules and thus my hopes for accessioning as much as possible as quickly as possible.  Not so far.  We have had no snow and, better yet, none of the dreaded winter mix of ice, sleet, snow and rain.  Therefore, things are going along well.  Actually better than in the past.  I don't know if it is because we are getting really good at this or what, but for the past few weeks we have been arranging for two deliveries/week instead of one.  We are quickly removing boxes from both Orange and Richmond.  I would estimate we are maybe 70% finished at this point.

Which translates into 622,278 items placed in 37,384 trays over the past 6 months.  This falls short of my fantasy goal of 120,000 items/month (6000/day) but is still a very respectable 100,000+/month (5000/day). 

Also to my delight is our ability to retrieve materials from Ivy Stacks.  When the project started we were not able to retrieve anything formerly housed at Ivy.  We sent those requests to ILL Borrowing.  Now we are routing those requests to Ivy staff (mostly me because I want to see the fill rate and learn the whole retrieval process using the Library Archival System from GFA).  I'm happy to report we are able to fill the vast majority of requests--probably > 80%.  It is still hit and miss, but I think we are doing pretty good.

Well, I have said it with my fingers crossed many times over the past several months and I will do so again now--so far so good.  Even the weather is cooperating.  I hope I haven't jinxed it completely now.