Friday, October 8, 2010

A Bookshelf 153 Miles Long

by Stephen J. Gertz

The Bodleian Library's new BSF, where books will be stored
in a state-of-the-art facility.

Photo credit: John Lawrence/The Independent.

Oxford's  Bodleian Library has a new home for its collection of six million books and more than 1.2 million maps, with room to spare for another two million.

The new Book Storage Facility (BSF) looks like a warehouse on the outside. On the inside it has the equivalent of 153 miles of storage shelf space.

Residing in a salt mine for the last few years, over the next twelve months the Bodleian's books, excluding its most popular and historic volumes, will be transferred to the BSF.

"The BSF will prove a long-awaited solution to the space problem that has long challenged the Bodleian," said its head librarian Dr Sarah Thomas. "We have been running out of space since the 1970s and the situation has become increasingly desperate in the last few years."

It was important to preserve all the books, Dr Thomas continued, "so that future generations will have access to the recorded information of the past."

"Now we can look to the future with confidence that we are preserving one of the world's most complete records of the written word in state-of-the-art secure archival conditions," she added.

The 153 miles of storage space includes 37 foot-high racks on 31 narrow aisles, each of which are 233 feet long. There are a total of 3,224 bays with 95,000 shelf levels in the warehouse, as well as 600 map cabinets.

If you request a book - and the Bodleian anticipates 200,000 requests a year - at 10 AM, it will be in your hands in Oxford by 3PM the next day.

If late, free pizza from Domino's?

Full story at The Independent.

With thanks to LISNews for the lead.

The Rare Book Guy wrote about storing books in salt mines, the perfect way to store them.

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