The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 16, Number 7-8
Dec 1992


Offsite Storage at UT Austin

The University of Texas's Library Storage Warehouse is a facility for planned remote storage of permanent, important, but little used library materials, including archives and records, from the General Libraries. The Warehouse was designed and constructed to provide high-density shelving for library materials, an excellent environment for preserving materials, and an inventory and retrieval system for easy and sure access to materials for library users.

The Building

Size and description. Warehouse style with steel frame tilt-up concrete walls, a floor of "very flat" construction, and steel roof. Three separate storage areas share the building: library storage, museum storage, and general storage. The total building footprint is 27,146 gross square feet. High-density library storage occupies the center section which is approximately 193 feet long, 44 feet wide (about 8,500 square feet) and 33 feet high (about 280,500 cubic feet). The library area has no windows. The receiving dock is 24 inches high with a scissors lift to accommodate delivery vehicles of varying sizes.

Capacity. Approximately 1.6 million volumes. Books and other materials are stored in trays (for individually cataloged volumes) or in boxes (newspapers, manuscripts, uncataloged collections of materials). Trays and boxes are made by Capital City Container Corporation, Austin, and Conservation Resources International, Springfield, VA. No areas for special handling of non-book materials, such as microform vaults or map cases, are included.

Shelving. Eight rows, 42 sections per row, 30-foot high shelving. Shelves are 48 inches by 36 inches. Shelving vendor is Morgan Marshall Industries, Chicago Heights, IL.

Retrieval. Raymond Model 152-OPC30TT man-aboard order-picker. The retriever features a custom designed and constructed platform to slide over forks, also supplied by Morgan Marshall Industries. Guide rails around shelving provide for automatic steering of the order-picker.

Environment. Preservationally very sound. Library storage area is referred to as a "thermos bottle." The library area has a separate HVAC and dehumidifying system with particulate and gas filters, extra insulation and vapor barriers, no roof penetrations, no wall penetrations to the outside from the library storage area, a special dock seal, and specially sealed doors. The temperature is expected to be a constant 55° ± 5°, with relative humidity a constant 35% ± 3%. Fourteen sensors placed throughout the storage area constantly monitor temperature and humidity. The library storage area features low lighting (about 5 foot-candles) with working lighting provided by lights on the order-picker and/or on safety helmets.

Fire prevention and suppression. The fire prevention/suppression system includes smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and a pressurized dry-pipe preaction sprinkler system.

Services. Storage and retrieval. The storage facility is not designed for direct access by users. Library staff deliver materials to an on-campus library unit within 36-48 hours. There is no public reading area, but perusal of some special materials (e.g., archives) by appointment only and accompanied by a librarian is possible in the library work area that is contiguous to the storage area.

Inventory control system. Locally written inventory control system is designed to interact with locally written online catalog/circulation system. Data Recognition, Inc., of Austin, provided portable data collection devices, barcode readers, and electronic scales. Other equipment includes a Macintosh IIsi microcomputer, Telex 3270 terminals, and a Brother VTAM Printer. Barcodes on ranges, sections, shelves, containers, and individual items are from Graphic Technology, Inc., Industrial Airport, KS. Container labels are printed by McGregor Printing Corporation, Austin.

Opening costs. Cost of the entire building, including shelving and major equipment: $1.99 million. The cost per volume stored for library storage space, shelving, and major equipment is less than $1.00.

Construction. Architects and engineers from the Department of Physical Plant, Architectural and Engineering Services, University of Texas at Austin. Project manager and architect, Geoffrey Gibson. Project manager for the General Libraries, Mary A. Seng, assistant director for Facilities and Support Services. General contractor is American Constructor, mechanicals by Biggs Plumbing, electrical by Hill Electric, and fire protection by AAA Fire and Safety Equipment, all of Austin.

Ground breaking and occupancy. Construction conract was signed December 17, 1991, and site grading began in late December, on the UT Balcones Research Center campus, a 15-minute drive northwest of the main campus of the University. Occupancy in early 1993.

Additional information sources. The General Libraries: Suzanne McAnna, head, Circulation Services Department, 512/495-4303. Physical Plant Department: Geoffrey Gibson, 512/471-3042.

Use of Materials in the Warehouse

What kinds of library resources are stored in the warehouse? Infrequently used materials important in the context of the research collections of the General Libraries. These include:

Finding out about materials stored in the Warehouse. Users can find out about materials in the Warehouse as they find out about books in other libraries on campus--by using the online catalog, UTCAT.

Each book or box of materials going into the Warehouse is marked with a barcode. An inventory record for each item is created by reading the barcode into a computer file and adding certain identifying information automatically or manually. When any item with a UTCAT record is stored in the Warehouse, UTCAT is updated to show that the item is in remote storage and can be requested at a circulation desk.

Retrieving materials from the Warehouse. Users can place a request at the circulation desk of most campus libraries to have materials retrieved from the Warehouse. Circulation staff will place an electronic order for the material. Warehouse staff will receive a computer printout showing the location of materials to be retrieved. Using the printout and double-checking by matching barcodes on the materials with barcodes in the "to retrieve" file, Warehouse staff will locate and retrieve requested items from Warehouse shelves.

Because the Warehouse is maintained at a cool 55° ± 5° F and dry 35% ±3% relative humidity, retrieved items must remain in an outer room in the Warehouse temporarily until they become acclimatized to the outside temperature and humidity. The materials will then be shipped back to the site from which the user's request originated. Most materials can be checked out on regular loan for home or office use, but some may be restricted to library use only. Materials should be returned to the library from which they were checked out.

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