Construction got underway this fall on a new library storage facility that will ease a space crunch and open the way for new and innovative use of Miller Library, said Director of Libraries Clem Guthro.
When it opens in May 2013, the air-conditioned storage facility, located on Washington Street less than a mile from Miller Library, will hold 500,000 lesser-used volumes. A courier will retrieve requested books twice a day, six days a week, while articles in bound journals will be scanned and delivered electronically.
Miller Library, last expanded in 1982, is filled to capacity, Guthro said. The off-site expansion was seen as the most economical and efficient way to address space issues. The storage facility will be built for about $3.6 million, while a full library expansion would cost up to $30 million.
“This way you’re able to renovate and not break the bank,” Guthro said.
The facility also allows Miller to be used in ways that better reflect current library usage and missions. Once seen as buildings that house books, libraries now are “centers for learning,” he said.
The freed-up space in Miller will allow several programs to move there, including the Creative Center for Teaching and Learning and the Center for Arts and Humanities, and it will provide new space for the Farnham Writers’ Center. The change also will add 100 student study spaces, Guthro said.
Colby is not alone in building a storage facility, he said. In an age of digital collections it’s increasingly common for academic libraries to move significant parts of their lesser-used book collections to storage and provide rapid delivery to patrons. “There is a national trend to downsize print collections at the local level and to rely on more regional approaches to satisfy the need for lesser-used monographs,” Guthro said. Most major graduate schools have used storage facilities for years, he said. “If you’ve gone to graduate school recently … you’re used to that model.”