Making Space for Books: Finishing Up the Job


Last November, I posted about our project to install high-density mobile shelving in our Archives Room. A lot has changed since November; I remember how many calendars we juggled to close the library for a month, how difficult that felt to all of us. Since then the Poetry Center, like the rest of the world, has had to shift its routines, procedures, and models of service. The shelving project, however, finished up right on schedule earlier this spring. In the midst of all this change and uncertainty, it is unbelievably satisfying to me to report this project done. 

I've put together a mini-exhibition about the installation process here: click the link for a behind-the-scenes look at how it all came together. The new shelving system gives us space for the next 10-20 years of book purchases at our current rates of acquisition; the shelves were growing very full, and the whole library staff feels as though we suddenly have room to breathe! I'm grateful to my colleagues Julie Swarstad Johnson and Leela Denver, who provided moral and logistical support throughout the installation process, and who cheerfully posed for our photo documentation. 

The Poetry Center could not have completed this project without generous grant support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, who funded this project through its Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grant program. We likewise could never have hoped to finish this project so quickly without our friends and colleagues at the University of Arizona Libraries and at Facilities Management. The Libraries lent us their expertise and staff time to shift collections in and out of the Archives Room and disassemble our old shelving system; Facilities Management's flooring experts heroically pulled carpets out of Archives with hours to spare before the winter closure and expertly reinstalled flooring for us when the new shelving system was complete. The team at Phoenix-based firm Interior Solutions, who installed the new shelving, delivered our custom system exactly as specified and ahead of schedule. We thank the NEH, the Libraries, Interior Solutions, and FM, whose expertise and support made this concept a reality. 

With the completion of our new shelving system, we have achieved all the major recommendations in the Poetry Center's 2014 General Preservation Assessment, which was spearheaded by former Library Director Wendy Burk and conducted by internationally recognized preservation consultant Randy Silverman. 

It takes a village populated by excessively amazing people to make a project of this size happen. We're so grateful!

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this blog post do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

National Endowment for the Humanities