Shifty business

Through the snowy month of December 2008, our division undertook the large task of relabeling and shifting approximately 22,000 items from offsite holidngs to a new storage facility, shared with UW Libraries’ auxiliary book stacks.

These materials had been shelved at a warehouse space near the Oak Tree shopping center on Aurora Ave. for almost twenty years, prior to which many of the collections had been moved several times. Previous offsite storage locations ran the gamut from a rec room at a UW Hospital laundry facility to a building at the Seattle Army Terminal (that also happened to contain a firing range).

Some of the benefits and service enhancements resulting from this move to the Sand Point facility are:

· Climate controlled space

· New compact shelving

· Coordinated retrievals with UW Libraries Circulation, improving turnaround time for requests

· Associated item records and barcodes for each box, allowing better tracking of materials

· Approximately 6,500 cubic feet of growth space

While the physical movement of all boxes, tubes, and oversize materials was contracted to Bekins, all of Special Collections staff and many students were enlisted to help with the process. Paul Constantine and Janet Polata supervised the movers at Oak Tree, while Angela Weaver, Nicole Bouche, Nicolette Bromberg and John Bolcer traded shifts supervising the delivery and reshelving at Sand Point. Nan Cohen and Jeni Spamer coordinated space assignment, item record creation and label printing, with the help of UW Libraries IT staff. The remainder of our staff pitched in to either help affix the new barcoded labels, or cover the reference desk to keep our reading room open during the move.

Other positive consequences of this project included the opportunity to replace approximately 400 damaged boxes, correct outdated and incorrect labels, locate mis-shelved materials, and gain better overall control of the collections. We also discovered what happens to thirty-year-old packing tape (see illustration below) and found not one, not two, but three flagpoles from the collection of Warren G. Magnuson.

Offsite materials were unavailable for patron use through the month of December, but retrieval requests resumed as scheduled on January 5, 2009. We are still sorting out kinks and adjusting to new procedures, but are overall very pleased with the outcome of this major project.

photo courtesy of Jeni Spamer
Wispy packing tape on UW Seismographs. Photo courtesy of Jeni Spamer