The thunderous noise in the halls near Special Collections & University Archives is not an approaching storm, (we have had enough water for a lifetime), but rather the sound of cart wheels rolling back and forth carrying shelves. The Books are on the Move all over the Main Library and Special Collections is no exception. Our basement storage area is infamous from the 2008 flood, when hundreds of volunteers from across the campus and the community joined in an effort to relocate 14,000 linear feet of books and manuscripts to higher floors. Now, as a consequence of the upcoming renovation work in the Main Library, we have an opportunity to honor their contribution by ensuring it will not likely be needed again. We are moving all of the collections up from the basement to the third floor. Our collections will all be housed together, greatly increasing our ability to page items quickly for our patrons.
We are undertaking this move internally so yesterday our dedicated student workers finished replacing small shelves with larger ones that will safely hold Special Collections materials and archival boxes. Our students, trained in handling rare materials and familiar with our storage locations proved themselves this summer when they shifted thousands of volumes in our third floor stacks in far less time than we planned for the project. Lindsay Morecraft has helped with both moves and she thinks student movers have advantages. “We know these materials and know that they have to be taken care of. We can see them as individual items and not as just objects to be moved so we can handle the materials better and be sure nothing gets lost, out of order, or damaged. It’s a lot of work, but in the end not going down to the basement and having everything in a central area will be a big help.”
Our heartfelt thanks go out to all of our student workers and volunteers. Though their work is hidden, today, like every day, the paging, shelving, processing, and moving are what make it possible for everyone from visiting classes, to researchers in the reading room, to junior high students working on National History Day projects, to be able to see and learn from our collections and contribute to the life of the university and our UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa City.