Preserving Texas history with Spacesaver archives storage

See how the Texas State Library and Archives Commission created a modern archives storage system in a 1960s-era building.

“Visitors from around the world can appreciate the treasures at the Texas State Library and Archives that have been made available here. The archives provide a window into Texas history.”

~ Former First Lady Laura Bush, speaking at the dedication of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building as a national Literary Landmark

A challenging structure

The Zavala State Archives and Library Building in Austin, Texas, first opened its doors in 1961 and was named a national Literary Landmark in 2009. The building houses the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and while the building has its charms — it’s across the street from the State Capitol and features an impressive facade and entryway — its structure has also posed a challenge for librarians and archivists.

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Do you need to store archives? See how the Texas State Library and Archives Commission created a modern archives storage system in a 1960’s-era building.

Creative library and archives storage solutions

Over the years, the local Spacesaver team’s attention to detail has allowed staff to optimize the available space, relocate shelving within the building and among various satellite locations, and develop creative storage solutions for a variety of irreplaceable historic materials.

“As we’ve grown — in more ways than one, staff as well as collections — we’ve seen the need to rethink the shelving.”
– Jelain Chubb,
State Archivist and Director, Archives and Information Services Division at Texas State Library and Archives Commission

In the late 1990s the institution began to outgrow the available space and approached the Texas State Legislature for funds to completely rethink the use of space throughout the building. Those funds were awarded in 2008, and staff reached out to the local Spacesaver team for assistance in designing new storage solutions. “As we’ve grown — in more ways than one, staff as well as collections — we’ve seen the need to rethink the shelving,” said Jelain Chubb, the state archivist and the director of the Archives and Information Services Division at Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The main challenge involved vertical supports are located every nine feet throughout the building’s storage areas. This posed a major problem when trying to design an archival shelving and storage system that would make the best use of the available space. The local Spacesaver team devised an innovative solution: they developed a layout that included stationary shelving units alternating with mobile shelves that slide on rails.

In an effort to use every square inch of available space, the Spacesaver team designed and manufactured shelving units of varying heights. This ensured that space was well used while also fitting around ductwork, accommodating lighting fixtures, and complying with fire codes.

Compact shelving systems slide along floor rails, and rails are often installed directly into the floor. In this case, though, the Spacesaver team needed to construct a false floor on top of the existing concrete floor before installing the rail system.

Hanging artwork is stored on wall-mounted art racks and protected by tambour doors.

Historic flags were mounted by conservation staff and are stored on art racks that slide on rails to make efficient use of space.

Spacesaver shelving is also used in the library’s public areas, providing an attractive way to compactly store and provide access to book collections.

An enduring relationship

The Commission continues to fine-tune its archival shelving and storage areas, and the local Spacesaver team is always ready to help with space planning advice, insights and ideas from other clients, and technicians who can assist with relocating shelving or installing new systems.“It’s been a good thing to know that we can break it down, and move it around, and adjust it, and reconfigure it to our needs,” Chubb said. “That’s been really good.”