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Storing 10,000 books with Iron Mountain to free up space for 3,000 new books each year
The University of Scranton began as Saint Thomas College in 1888. We're a private Catholic Jesuit university. The library was built to house 330,000 volumes when we opened in '92. We are at 329,000 volumes at the current time. Our teaching faculty select the materials that we add to the collection. I very much feel that they own the collection.
It is the center of our university and it's so important that we keep libraries accessible to everyone. This building is always full and busy. It's challenging when your stacks are full because you're constantly having to shift books around.It was really important for us to look for the potential or possible solutions because we bring in 2,000 or 3,000 books a year.
The thing that made off-site storage very attractive to us was the fact that budgets are always a concern. Libraries all over the country struggle with this issue.
When the staff approached the library advisory committee to assuage our fears, the thing that worked most were that they were incredibly transparent. The academic departments were concerned that they would be lost, and that if they were put in a storage facility, that they would not be able to be retrieved soon enough. I was concerned as to if we do move them off-site, what would be the practicality of retrieving them?
First, we started talking early on in the process with the library faculty, the advisory committee. The faculty from each department reviewed their subject areas to say it was okay for us to send those titles. If they had any questions at all, we could remove a title from the list and keep it here in the library. We were consulted at each step of the process along the way, and had a chance to oversee the construction of which volumes would be sent off.
Iron Mountain is providing for us a secure location off-site where the books are in climate control. It freed up space for 10,000 more books in our collection. We knew that our books were going to be protected, and the access to knowledge would be protected. I think it's getting departments to look at libraries differently, that it does not necessarily have to be on-site, it has to be available.
To access a book, I go onto the University of Scranton library page. I search for the book, and then if it tells me that it is at the Iron Mountain facility, I can click on that. Within 24 hours, I get an email from the circulation desk telling me that I can pick up the book that I've accessed from the facility.
The library is the core of a university. It's central to the students, it's central to the faculty. Whether it's the books, it's the journals, it's the access to the information. That's why we're so passionate about it.