Free Library of Philadelphia

Operations Center at Southbank

The free Library Operations at Southbank is a climate-controlled, state-of-the-art storage facility that allowed the Free Library of Philadelphia to open up space for modern uses while preserving seldom accessed materials.

The off-site storage project was driven by the library’s need to modernize its function and appearance. While the building’s exterior is an iconic landmark, the interior was cramped and dar: metal shelves supported the floor above, and the resulting narrow aisles and low ceilings gave the library’s stacks a cave-like feeling.

The Operations Center at Southbank was an integral part of an overarching strategy that aimed to make room for modern programmatic uses and improve interior aesthetics. The local Spacesaver distributor conducted a thorough space assessment of the off-site warehouse, consulted with the library to understand what needed to be stored, and designed and installed an extensive compact storage solution. Some static shelving was installed, and 90″-tall shelving on a mechanical-assist compact mobile system makes optimal use of the available warehouse space.

The facility now house government documents, bound journals, and other infrequently accessed materials. As a result, the library has experienced a dramatic transformation, eliminating six levels of metal stacks and brightening the interior while still maintaining access to collections.

Off-site storage projects can incorporate static shelving, as pictured below, and shelving mounted on mobile carriages. This storage system was installed in an existing warehouse and consisted of medium-height shelving units to take full advantage of the facility’s vertical space.

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