Frequently Asked Questions

Ivy Stacks, the offsite shelving facility managed by the University of Virginia Library, is undergoing a complete renovation of the physical plant as well as the collections housed there. The project will take 12-18 months to complete. During this time the materials will not be available for retrieval or circulation.

What is Ivy Stacks?
Ivy Stacks is an offsite shelving facility managed by the University of Virginia Library located about 2 miles from central grounds on Old Ivy Road. The 10,000 square foot building holds approximately 750,000 items owned by the libraries of all the UVa schools, including Law, Health Sciences, and Darden. Controls of temperature, humidity, air exchange and lighting ensure a proper environment for the long term preservation of materials housed there. Eight ranges of shelving are each 40 feet tall and 155 feet long. That’s a lot of shelving, but even so, the facility is filled to capacity.

What is the history and condition of Ivy Stacks?
Ivy Stacks was opened in 1995 to act as a shelving site for library owned materials that are valued but rarely used. It is an excellent library facility with good environmental controls. The temperature is maintained between 66 and 70 degrees; humidity is between 45 and 53 per cent; and air is completely exchanged every two hours. There are no known incidents of infestation by insects, birds, or critters finding their way into the building. There is no history of damage to materials by water from a leak in the roof or water pipes.

Why is this renovation needed?
All of the library shelving spaces, including Ivy Stacks, are full.  The original plan was to build a second module right next to the current building when needed. However, that has become too expensive (about $16 million). The only options to allow for growth and management of the collections are to dispose of a large percentage of library materials (not desirable) or to better use the space available. In just the past couple of years Spacesaver Corporation, a leader in shelving solutions for libraries and industry, has developed a high density mobile shelving system that, in conjunction with sorting materials of similar size in trays, can double the capacity of the current facility. In June, 2010 the University of Virginia approved a proposal for $4.9 million to install the XTend Mobile High Bay Storage System.

What does installing a completely new shelving system involve?
In order to install the XTend system the building must be completely emptied of the materials housed there along with the current shelves. Arrangements are being made to contract with outside vendors for moving the 55,000 boxes that hold the library materials, storing them safely for 12-18 months during the construction phase of the project, and removing the existing shelving. Spacesaver Corporation will then install railroad tracks to hold the mobile shelves, pour concrete to make the tracks flush with the floor, and then install the mobile shelves. This part of the project will take approximately one year and should be completed by August, 2011.

Before any materials are returned to the Ivy Stacks facility each item will be reviewed to ensure it is properly described in the library catalog and bar coded. Depending on the type of material an item is, it will be housed in an appropriate container. For books and bound journals, which is the bulk of the items housed at Ivy Stacks, this means sorting items of similar size and placing them in acid free cardboard trays. This minimizes the space wasted when storing items in a box, as the Library has done in the past. This work will be completed in early 2012.

Will library patrons be able to request items from Ivy Stacks during this time?
The Library encourages users to continue to request needed items as usual. However, the item delivered will not be the copy housed at Ivy. The Library will request any item normally housed at Ivy from other libraries via our interlibrary loan (ILL) process. This has three major ramifications:

1. The item will take a few days longer to get here.
2. There will be a shorter loan period than normal (most libraries will lend us an item for only 30-60 days).
3. Our community users will not have this service available to them from the UVa Libraries. They should contact their public library system for ILL requests.

Should an item that would normally have been available from Ivy Stacks be difficult to obtain by ILL a patron should discuss the situation with the library subject specialist in his/her area.

Why is this project important to the University?
The library is central to the core mission of any University, but especially at the University of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson designed the University around the Rotunda, the original location of the library. Current research and teaching are supported by the collections and services managed by the Library. As with all enterprises, the Library must be as flexible as possible in order to respond the changing needs of the researchers at UVa, and adapt to the latest technologies that affect teaching and learning. The Ivy Stacks retrofit project will provide much needed space to allow our collections to grow and be better managed, ensure the collections are discoverable in our online catalog, and promote the long term preservation of items shelved there. These are University priorities as well as ones specific to the Library.