Federal Librarian Fall 2009

Library to Lockers

The Naval War College has long prided itself on its library collection and the services that it provides to the graduate level student population and researchers. Imagine our surprise when we were told in early summer that the NWC was receiving a shipment of lockers and the lockers would be placed in the Library. Lockers, 256 of them, in a library already starved for space? These were not the fairly manageable lockers from our high school or college days. These were lockers in which a person could set up house. They are 7 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The sample that was delivered made us think of Darth Vader, because not only were they big, but they were pitch black!

The question most often asked is: Why the Library? The answer given is: Sprinklers. The Library was the only place with a ceiling high enough to accommodate lockers and sprinklers at the same time. No other acceptable ocation had enough clearance above the lockers for the sprinkler system.

We were told that the lockers would be here on August 14 and we needed to be ready to receive them on that date. There was severe shock on our part, because of all the work that had to be done. Library materials had to be identified to go into storage. Storage had to be identified. A moving and storage contract had to be placed. Materials had to be prepared. Problems had to be solved. Work had to be done.

Library Director, Bob Schnare, made a decision that the easiest way to deal with the move was to put that part of the library collection that fell between K and U in storage along with all of the Z’s, some of the J’s and some K’s. Collection Development Librarian, Barbara Donnelly, analyzed the collection and came up with recommendations as to disposition of certain titles. Acquisitions Librarian, Gina Brown, trained the summer hires to change the codes of the materials, to scan the barcodes, and to otherwise prepare the materials to be moved. Technical Services Head, Lucille Rosa, worked with the Director of Facilities to prepare a statement of work and with the chosen vendor to assure that the work could be done.

William B. Meyer, Inc., a NELINET vendor, was chosen to move and store the collection. Manager Carla Caforio paid a preliminary visit to make sure that there were no unidentified problems. Large orange bins were delivered by the moving company staff and the job of moving approximately 32,000 books was over in a day. The next day, Meyer staff came back to shift the U’s and V’s. They were very efficient and did very professional work. What remained looked like a vast open space that we all knew was not to stay that way.

In the end, there were drawbacks to having to do this but benefits as well. The main drawback was having the collection split as it was in the end. While we kept as much as we could onsite, 32,000 volumes is a lot to send to a remote location. Patrons were not thrilled about having the collection split up. They did not like having to wait a day or so to use formerly ready at hand materials. A major benefit was that the process uncovered invalid barcodes and other errors that we were able to clean up as a result of the move. We found numerous titles that simply were not in the database. We found books that had spine label typos that put them in the wrong classification. At some point, a dyslexic staff member reversed some of the class number so that books ended up in very interesting shelf locations versus their actual topics. These had been undiscoverable by any means other than thoughtful shelf reading prior to the actual move of the books.

While we would love to have our collection whole again, the staff at Meyer have been most helpful in making the process as easy as possible. They even have a study room where we can send a researcher to work with materials at their facility if that seems the easiest way to accomplish the goal of serving the patrons’ need.

The lockers do look out of place in the Library, but they have become a fairly silent presence that has so far been far quieter than we envisioned they would be. The students recognize that this is still a library and for the most part, they are quiet when they go to the lockers to pick up or drop things off. Someday, the lockers will be gone, the books will be back, and we will remember Darth Vader lockers as part of our history.

Submitted by Lucille M. Rosa, Naval War College

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