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Future of Library Storage

As a library professional for a large institution or consortium, you’re faced with unique space challenges, including increasing pressure to find more efficient ways to preserve your collection while maximizing valuable library space. You realize that the future management of your library collections likely includes offsite storage, and have likely discovered that a scalable and sustainable solution that meets your preservation requirements is hard to find.

Ideal Preservation Service Requires New Innovation

We're well aware of your situation. In 2015 we performed a detailed analysis of existing high-density offsite library preservation storage systems, technologies and cost models. We engaged with the library community and looked at everything from Harvard-style high-density to compact shelving. We learned a lot, including the direct impact that scale and storage density has on overall cost.

Iron Mountain Offsite Preservation and Access Service

Offsite Preservation and Access Service
We have good news. Iron Mountain library services has developed an offsite storage solution for large-scale institutions and consortia that can improve your overall cost model and provide an ideal storage environment for long-term preservation that you won’t find anywhere else.

How did we do it? Our team of subject matter experts in storage, racking, and process engineering worked with leaders in the library community to develop a solution and new model for storage that more than doubles the storage density of a Harvard-style facility, reduces the overall costs, increases security and preservation and allows us to provide a range of configurations so you can maintain your content in the right preservation environment.

And there's more. Our patent pending library storage solution uses Automated Storage and Retrieval (ASRS) technology, with an innovative new approach. ASRS has been used in the past to provide high-density on-site storage with fast retrieval times. But our new ASRS design is optimized for offsite storage, significantly improving the economics and providing a more secure storage environment. It eliminates all but one aisle, using shuttle technology to stack custom-designed storage modules in tunnels perpendicular to the central aisle. This model takes advantage of more available space within a facility, because humans don't need to be within the racking system. And it allows us to use hypoxic fire prevention instead of traditional water-based sprinkler systems.

Iron Mountain Library ASRS simulation

We know that seeing is believing, so check out the simulation below to see how the ASRS retrieves books that are stored in storage modules (green boxes) deep in the racking system. We’ve stripped away the right side of the ASRS so you can see the system in action.

Here’s what’s going on:

  • The yellow moving squares are the shuttles that are used to transport storage modules up and down the center aisle
  • The orange square is a satellite that will move the storage modules in and out of the tunnels
  • Each of the large boxes in the tunnels (brown, red and green) represents a storage module, which provides secure high-density storage for your books and boxes

Hypoxic: Enhanced Preservation and Lower Costs

Here’s how it works:

In this hypoxic environment, oxygen is reduced from normal levels (approximately 21%) to levels that cannot sustain combustion (16% to 13.5%), providing fire prevention – one step better than traditional fire suppression systems. By replacing the oxygen with inert nitrogen gas, we create an environment that eliminates dangerous mold growth, rodent and insect invasion and water damage. These protections ultimately lead to an enhanced preservation outcomes for the assets.

The hypoxic environment offers great preservation benefits and improves our overall storage density by eliminating the need for flue space for water suppression systems and in-rack sprinkler systems. This feature, coupled with the multi-level, tunnel-style ASRS racking architecture, is how we achieve a storage density of more than 60%. You can compare this with a Harvard-style facility which typically uses less than 30% of the available warehouse space.

Designed to Integrate into Your Existing Environment

Our new library storage service can provide unmediated access to your remotely stored content while following your ILS or LSP access rules. How does this help you? Your staff won’t be tied up with typical patron requests. Patrons can request books from within your own ILS with automatic next day delivery or digital fulfillment.

The Iron Mountain Preservation service has three major workflows - Initial Accession, Request and Refile.

Initial Accession Process

Accession is broken down into two major components. The first involves pulling the books off the shelf, preparing shipments and then transporting your material to our secure storage facility. Since all libraries are unique and will have specific requirements, this is treated like a project that the library, Iron Mountain, or a third party can handle. The blue box represents the accession into our storage environment, which includes unpacking, cleaning, bar coding (if needed), inspecting, sizing, scanning, put away and discrepancy reporting. The price for the Iron Mountain accession (blue box) is on a per item basis.

Request and Refile Process

The Request process is initiated when a library patron requests a book through your online catalog or discovery layer. Your ILS or LSP will pass a request message to Iron Mountain which will trigger our team to pull, pack, and deliver the book back to your library based on your chosen service level agreement — economy, two day, or next business day. Alternatively, if the user requests a digital scan and provides a citation, we will pull the book, scan the article or chapter, and deliver a digital file. In the Refile process, the book is returned to Iron Mountain, processed at our facility and placed back into storage.

Predictable Pricing

Understanding that libraries have fixed budgets we’ve developed bundled pricing for predictable annual costs. One annual price includes storage, request and refile (including transportation). The bundled price per book is calculated based on a few variables, which include circulation rate, total number of books and delivery service level agreement. Iron Mountain will provide you with a cost estimate by the book, but your actual invoice will be based on the cubic foot displacement of the material once it goes through accession.

Become an Anchor Tenant

We’re looking for anchor tenant libraries for our ASRS solution. This is a unique chance to take advantage of special incentives and preferential pricing for this new innovative library storage model.
Contact Us for More Information
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Why Iron Mountain?

Iron Mountain has the scale, resources, and expertise to work with you on any size project – whether you need to shift books between library branches or your library annex or get 100’s of thousands of volumes to your library book storage facility. Our experts in the logistics of library moving are ready to help you organize and execute your move. Bring your questions to Iron Mountain.

Start small. Start with a conversation.