Smarter Library Book Storage Protects Archival Collections

Gettysburg College needed archival library book storage to protect historic documents and free up space for study and research.

Did You Know?

409,000 volumes are housed in Gettysburg College’s Musselman Library. 14,000 of them are rare and special collections books.

Honoring Heritage, Preparing for the Future

Gettysburg College, located adjacent to the historic Gettysburg Battlefield, is steeped in history. The college was established prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, and during the battle, its buildings were used by both Union and Confederate troops for signal work and medical aid. The college’s Musselman Library is entrusted with promoting in-depth understanding of that history, which means preserving and providing access to a variety of primary source materials, including over 14,000 rare books, manuscripts, maps, and other items. Staff are responsible for storing these delicate materials in a way that maintains their integrity while still allowing scholars to retrieve them for research.

However, the library’s primary focus is on serving the 2,600 students of Gettysburg College. The library estimates that about 1,800 students visit the library every day to access books and research materials. These students also utilize the library space to collaborate on group projects and presentations and for quiet study. “We have a lot of students in our building,” says Natalie Hinton, Assistant Director of User Services at the library. “We want to provide them comfortable space.”

“A smart shelving solution is the best solution to caring for this plethora of material that we’re always going to need to save. It will actually make it possible to care for those books in the way and with the integrity that the books deserve.”

– Carolyn Sautter, Director of Special Collections and College Archives

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Archival Storage: Protecting Pieces of the Past

Before the new shelving was installed, Musselman Library struggled to find the balance between protection of the special collections and providing open collaboration space for students. The rare books, many of them quite old, require a highly regulated environment, which typically requires extra space or even dedicated special collections rooms. “In our collections room, we needed to have a shelving solution that was going to help us care for those materials, make them retrievable, but more importantly keep the temperature, humidity and airflow as stable as possible,” said Carolyn Sautter, Director of Special Collections and College Archives.

1800-1900

Number of students that visit Musselman Library each day.

Comfortable Spaces Serve Students

In order to meet modern demands in the restricted space, the library’s dean, Robin Wagner, turned to Diversified Storage Solutions Inc., an authorized Spacesaver distributor. Project Manager Charlie Middleton, a sales consultant at DSSI, has been a trusted partner to the library for more than fifteen years. During that time he has consulted with Wagner and her staff on library book storage projects ranging from ActivRAC 7 book shelves to relocating their shelving modules to the offsite locations.

For the library’s latest storage projects, staff wanted to consolidate storage to free up space for collaborative and study areas in its Special Collections area while still maintaining stable temperature and airflow to preserve the materials. Middleton suggested custom-built perforated library book storage that would allow air to not only flow from side to side but also up and down through the shelves. “We had a lot of experience with perforated shelving,” Middleton said. “We’ve done project at the State Capitol and at the State Archives and Rare Books, so we knew it would be a good solution for them.”

“In our collections room, we needed to have a shelving solution that was going to help us care for those materials, make them retrievable, but more importantly keep the temperature, humidity and airflow as stable as possible.”

– Carolyn Sautter, Director of Special Collections and College Archives

Increasing Capacity, Avoiding Expansion

By adding the 48 compactable mobile carriages to the third floor of Musselman Library, more books could be relocated there from the fourth floor. The space created on the fourth floor in Special Collections was transformed into a research and study area. Library staff were thrilled to protect the precious collection, provide for safe and convenient retrieval, and free up space for other uses – all while avoiding the expense and undesirable appearance of an addition or the inconvenience of relocating collections to offsite storage. “The bottom line is that they didn’t have to expand the library,” Middleton said. “They didn’t want to. It’s beautiful. It has that wow factor.”

The staff agrees. “A smart shelving solution is the best solution to caring for this plethora of material that we’re always going to need to save,” said Sautter. “It will actually make it possible to care for those books in the way and with the integrity that the books deserve”

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