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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 20, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 22
JHU Libraries Open High-Density Shelving Facility

Aloft in one of the Service Center's two order-pickers, library assistant Eliza Hill retrieves a book midway up the 32-foot-high shelves.

By Pamela Higgins
Sheridan Libraries

Ribbon-cutting ceremonies took place on Feb. 13 for the new JHU Libraries' Service Center, a state-of-the-art facility providing high-density shelving for more than 2 million volumes. Located on the Applied Physics Laboratory campus in Laurel, Md., it replaces the libraries' Baltimore facility, which was established in 1995. The new center was funded in part by a state grant of $2 million.

The center houses approximately 1.4 million books and journals, microforms and audiovisual materials from the Eisenhower Library. The Welch Medical Library and the Wilmer Eye Institute also house materials there.

Modular in design, the current shelving capacity of 2.2 million volumes can be expanded to hold 8.8 million volumes, including a cold storage area for film. Books are shelved by size to maximize shelving capacity, and the temperature is kept at a cool 50 degrees, an optimal setting for the preservation of library materials.

"The APL campus is an ideal location," said Winston Tabb, dean of university libraries. "It allows us to provide quick and easy access to library materials, and the expansion capability will ensure that we can maintain on-campus library space for readers and key library services. We are grateful to our colleagues at APL for their generosity and support of this initiative, which benefits patrons at all the Johns Hopkins libraries."

The center receives an average of 100 requests daily, which can be made online from the JHU Libraries Catalog or via the Web. Ninety percent of the article-length materials requested are delivered to the requestor's desktop computer within two hours, and books are delivered twice daily by courier to the Homewood campus. All the materials formerly housed at the Baltimore facility have been relocated to the new center, which is open seven days a week.

Future plans call for the center to be available to Maryland libraries as a statewide facility for preserving and providing access to a shared collection, reducing the need for redundant print collections in individual libraries. The University System of Maryland's McKeldin Library already shelves more than 475,000 items there.

The center was built by the Kinsley Construction Company, based in York, Pa.

On hand to cut the ribbon were Jim Zeller, associate provost; Larry Kilduff, executive director of facilities operations; Winston Tabb, dean of university libraries; Richard Roca, director of APL; and Ruth Nimmo, assistant director of operations at APL.


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