Remote Shelving Services · 17
Survey Questions and Responses
The SPEC survey on Remote Shelving Facility Services was designed by Thom Deardorff, Coordinator
for Access Services, and Gordon J. Aamot, Head, Art, Architecture, and Business Libraries, University of
Washington. These results are based on data submitted by 85 of the 123 ARL member libraries (69%) by
the deadline of March 31, 2006. The survey’s introductory text and questions are reproduced below, fol-
lowed by the response data and selected comments from the respondents.
The September 30, 2005 special issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education noted that, despite predictions that the availability
of “everything” online on the Internet would soon make the physical research library obsolete, the library building is regaining
its position as the “heart of the campus.” This new centrality is based on the development of new or expanded library spaces
for digital resource access, group studies, media laboratories, and technology-based learning spaces. Since the number of library
print resources continues to grow and universities are reluctant or unable to expand library spaces on central campus, there is
a need to recalibrate the allocation of space between physical collections and spaces needed for accessing and working with
digital resources. Thanks to the availability of high quality catalog information and a service commitment to rapid turnaround,
shelving lesser-used materials in remote facilities has become an increasingly acceptable solution for balancing the demand for
both collections and user space.
Shelving low-use materials off-site is not a new strategy for research libraries, nor a new topic for SPEC surveys. Previous
SPEC Kits on remote shelving facilities were published in 1977, 1990, and 1999 (numbers 39, 164, and 242, respectively) and
provide a wealth of information on physical facilities, user access, selection of materials, costs, and user services over time.
This SPEC survey is intended to update parts of the earlier surveys, but its primary focus is on the value-added service aspects
of remote shelving operations. How have services matured and been impacted by changes in technology? Are libraries adding
enhanced bibliographic information to their catalogs? Is there a link from the catalog to a request form? Are libraries scanning
articles or chapters in lieu of delivering the physical item? Do users have a choice of pick-up locations for print materials? How
are libraries evaluating the service?
For the purposes of this survey, we use the same definition for “remote shelving facility” as was used for “secondary storage” in
SPEC Kits 164 and 242: “the housing of more than 50,000 items at a site remote from the collections of which they are a part.”
If your library deposits material in more than one remote shelving facility, we ask that you base your answers on the facility to
which your library sends the most material (primary facility).
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