Remote Shelving Services · 11
Executive Summary
Libraries are undergoing profound transforma-
tions as digital networked resources alter how li-
brary users interact with library staff, collections,
and spaces. ARL member libraries are responding
to changing use patterns and pedagogical trends
by creating more spaces for digital resource access,
group studies, media laboratories, and technology-
based learning spaces. As reported in the Chronicle
of Higher Education for September 30, 2005, James G.
Neal, University Librarian at Columbia University,
stated that we are now seeing “trompe l’oiel librar-
ies” that have the appearance of a traditional library
“but, in fact, what we are creating is something far
more progressive and far more dynamic inside, in
terms of social space, academic space, and learning
space.” This transformation requires more library
space, usually in a location central to campus. As
library collections continue to grow, administrators
are faced with the choice of trying to create new
central library spaces to accommodate growing
collections and new services or developing other
alternatives for housing lesser-used materials.
More and more, the development of remote shelv-
ing facilities is a response to these space pressures.
Remote shelving facilities have been a strat-
egy for ARL member libraries for a long time and
a number of SPEC surveys have been conducted
to document design, selection of materials, costs,
and services. Building upon this work, this SPEC
survey will focus on user services and how they
have changed since the last survey in 1998. The re-
sults of that survey were published in May 1999 in
SPEC Kit 242 Library Storage Facilities, Management,
and Services. We have continued to use the previous
definition of this type of facility: “the housing of
more than 50,000 volumes in a site remote from the
collections of which they are a part.” For libraries
that use more than one facility, respondents were
asked to describe the facility to which they send the
most material (primary facility).
Eighty-five of the 123 ARL member libraries (69%)
responded to the survey. Of that group, 68 (80%)
use at least one remote shelving facility or are
currently planning for one. A sizeable number of
libraries have relatively new facilities; 25 of the
respondents reported that they send material to a
facility that has been in operation fewer than six
years. Of that group, eight reported an existing fa-
cility in the 1998 survey. Most of the responding
libraries (45 or 71%) use only one remote shelving
facility; 13 (21%) use two facilities; and four (6%)
use three facilities. One respondent sends materials
to four remote shelving facilities.
Management of Remote Shelving Facilities
Forty respondents (63%) use one or more facilities
that are not shared by libraries from other institu-
tions. Forty-eight of these 60 facilities are owned
and/or managed by the reporting library and
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