12 · SPEC Kit 295
three are managed by the library system owner-
ship of the remaining nine facilities was unspeci-
fied. Twenty-three respondents (37%) report using
a total of 18 unique shared facilities. Nine of these
are managed by a library (either the responding li-
brary or a partner at another institution), four are
managed by a consortium, two by a library system,
and three by commercial firms engaged in docu-
ment storage and management.
Description of Facilities
Remote shelving facilities have grown not only
in number but also in size since the 1999 survey.
On average, a facility today has a capacity of more
than 1.5 million volumes and currently holds more
than 820,000 print volumes, a 43% increase over the
1998 average volume count of 572,000. Most of the
facilities also house non-print material, such as mi-
croforms, and to a lesser extent, archival boxes and
flat files. The average facility added over 200,000
new items last year. The materials in remote shelv-
ing facilities now average approximately 18% of re-
spondents’ entire library collections. The majority
of facilities have been in operation fewer than 10
years, are within six miles of the main library, hold
under two million volumes, and are more than 70%
Although many of the facilities use standard or
compact shelving units, a majority now have high-
density storage similar to the Harvard model (33
responses or 52%) and the trend has been to install
more of this type of shelving. Of the 35 new remote
shelving facilities developed in the past 10 years,
23 (66%) installed some high-density shelving. In
addition, materials are stored in various kinds of
cabinets (e.g., file, map, or microfilm), tube shelv-
ing (for architectural drawings), and archival boxes
on pallets.
While statistics provide the quantitative aspect
of facility description, many libraries have devel-
oped Web sites that provide narrative and visual de-
scriptions of their facilities that more fully describe
the operations and environment. The Minnesota
Library Access Center, for example, has created a
highly visual virtual tour of a remote shelving facil-
ity hosted by an initially reticent inductee to the fa-
cility, Bib the Book (see http://www.minitex.umn.
Facility Names
The most commonly used terms for remote shelving
facilities are “annex” (usually as part of the phrase
library annex) and “storage these terms are each
used 14 times in reported facility names. “Storage”
is frequently used as a noun, as in “Harper Storage,”
but more often as an adjective and has apparently
lost its negative connotation. “Facility” appears in
12 names, “depository” in six. There doesn’t seem
to be a trend in naming, however. Names of facili-
ties developed over the past five years show little or
no consistency. There is a trend for more proactive
sounding names such as “service center,” though.
Ironically, only two sites use the word “shelving”
in the name of their facility.
This survey did not attempt to capture one-time
workloads related to planning a new facility and
relocating entire collections. Rather, the focus was
on the ongoing workload of receiving new material,
retrieving material, making copies, and maintain-
ing the collections. Support staff and students are
the most common staff categories in a remote shelv-
ing facility (52 responses or 95% and 31 responses
or 56%, respectively). There are administrative staff
at 23 facilities (42%). Only ten (18%) have librar-
ians on staff seven (13%) have other professionals.
Eleven report having other categories of staff, typi-
cally temporary project staff. Three respondents
explained that the facility is not staffed. Rather, li-
brary staff make trips to the facility periodically to
add, retrieve, or reshelve items.
In the facilities that are staffed the number of
support staff ranges from 1 to 26 the FTE ranges
from .05 to 25 and averages 3.65. The number of
student employees ranges from 1 to 45 the FTE
ranges from .18 to 10 and averages 2.35. Typically,
there is only one administrator, librarian, and/or
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