The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 22, Number 1


Moving and Reorganizing A Library, by Marianna S. Wells and Rosemary Young. Ashgate Publishing Company, Old Post Road, Brookfield VT, 05036 (800-535-9544). 1997. 123 pp. $56.95. ISBN 0-566-07701-9.

Reviewed by John D. Fitzgerald Jr., Graduate Student, University of Pittsburgh School of Library and Information Science

Wells and Young summarize the importance of their topic by stating, "For librarians, planning a library move is a once in a lifetime experience. No wonder we are intimidated and overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of having to take on such a daunting assignment" (xiii). Most of us have experienced the stress and pressure of moving a household. The responsibility for moving and reorganizing a library or archival institution will certainly magnify such feelings. It is the authors' intention to present a book that contains common elements any library or archival institution can benefit from and utilize. The authors' expertise comes from actual experience. Each was charged with planning and moving her individual academic collections, thus gaining the insight to write such a practical volume.

The book is divided into two parts. The first concentrates on the process of planning and moving a collection to a new facility, while the second addresses the options available for those institutions that must focus on in-house solutions, because they do not see a new facility in their future. The book offers an easy-to-read format with bold headings and a layout that makes it easy to locate and browse specific subjects. Figures are strategically placed to aid the reader throughout the book. One of them is a valuable timetable for planning the move, which can be easily adapted for use with collections of various institutions. A list of references is also provided for further investigation of specific subjects.

Part One provides a common template for planning and moving a collection. The process is laid out in a chronological fashion through its chapters. In addition to the general moving process, the authors provide a generic blueprint of a library, which includes both general requirements and the various technical requirements that must be addressed. They also include a case study of software use in the move of a journal collection. Academic librarians will be most interested in seeing how the authors designed a database to facilitate moving the serials, and how its value continued after the move was complete.

Wells and Young discuss preservation in terms of reviewing the collection before it is moved. It is in this section that I feel the authors should have researched a little further. Attention is paid mainly to paper collections and to how the move may affect brittle materials. The suggestions range from the use of shrink-wrapping to enclosing items in lig-free board. The authors refer to George Cunha's thirty-year-old manual, Conservation of Library Materials: A Manual and Bibliography on the Care, Repair, and Restoration of Library Materials. A more recent manual, such as Preservation of Library & Archival Materials: A Manual (Sherelyn Ogden, 1994) should have been included. There are better options available for moving fragile materials. This will vary depending upon the size, format, and the specific preservation needs of a collection. Consulting with a preservation librarian or a conservator will also yield valuable results.

I believe that attention should also have been briefly given to other formats such as microfilm, magnetic media, maps, and photographs. Nonbook formats can make up a significant portion of a collection, and their specific needs should be addressed. Granted, the moving of a library is a tremendous task in itself and preservation is only one part of the process. Yet it is a subject of great importance. It is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to survey the entire preservation needs of a collection, establish priorities, and then plan treatment for the specific materials. The approach to the subject, and the preservation methods utilized, will impact the collection for years to come.

Throughout the book, the authors do an excellent job of balancing the quality of information while keeping it brief and concise. This is seen in Part Two, where the authors provide alternatives to a new facility. The alternatives suggested are in-house shifting, shelving options, storage options, collection management and document delivery. Each alternative provides logical solutions that can be utilized partially, or in full, to solve current and future space problems. The final chapter of the book requires the reader to be aware of future trends that will affect not only library design, but the mission of the library and librarians. These are important when considering plans for an institution ten or more years into the future.

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