MSEL: Off-site shelving
While the Milton S. Eisenhower Library undergoes a massive
renovation project, students and staff members have been
work around the disarray. But some improvements are not as
During the past year, thousands of low-use volumes and research materials have been transferred to the Moravia Park Shelving Facility, about 7 miles from the Homewood campus. The site was created to ease crowding and to provide additional space at the MSEL.
"The patron almost never sees the benefits of this," Moravia Park supervisor Greg Lepore said. "The only room that has been added for books at the MSEL is this space."
One benefit patrons may recognize right away is the availability of the off-site materials.
Students, faculty, staff and researchers may request materials in person by filling out a form at the library, or by sending a fax to (410)325-2365, or an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Requests received Monday through Friday by 10 a.m. are normally delivered by noon; those received by 2 p.m. will be delivered by 5. Requests made after 2 p.m. will be processed and delivered by noon the next day. In the past year, the longest wait they ever had was for a request that came in around 4 p.m. on a Friday. The patron received the material by noon on Monday.
"We don't feel that's too bad," Lepore said.
As an additional customer service effort, the staff will fax copies of requested articles directly to patrons. Normally, a researcher would have to pay to copy articles, which can add up to many pages.
"We try to balance out the inconvenience of things being off-site," said Deborah Slingluff, head of Access Services at the library. "People really like that they get their materials handed to them. We're doing our best."
Space was a main concern when the plans for Moravia Park were being developed. The MSEL was designed to hold about 1 million volumes, Slingluff said.
"We were well over that with nearly 2 million volumes," she said. "What had happened is that we grew into the study space. As we added more materials, users had less space to sit and study them. We had to maintain a balance of user space and materials."
So the shelving facility was created, complete with the optimal climate and humidity controls of 68 degrees F., 45 percent humidity. ("Anything more promotes mold," Lepore said. "Anything less causes the books to get brittle.")
At full production, 60 crates of books arrived each day, to be sorted and shelved. That went on for about eight months, Lepore said, and took care of the initial 400,000 volumes to be housed at Moravia Park. In addition to the library materials stored at Moravia Park, there are items from Special Collections, Plant Operations and SAIS.
Each year, about 40,000 more volumes--about the same number of books that come into the MSEL annually--will be transferred to Moravia Park. That will keep the library at "zero growth" for the foreseeable future.
Lepore and his assistant, David Keifer, process an average of 60 requests a day. Though temporary employees were hired when the site first opened, now the two of them make up the entire Moravia Park staff. They rotate the responsibilities of sorting, charging, shelving, retrieving and correcting errors. Luckily, they get along, and they appreciate the same type of music: freestyle rock and roll.
Library users who wish to make comments, ask questions or register concerns may send an e-mail message to email@example.com.
The facility's homepage address is http://milton.mse.jhu.edu:8001/library/moravia/moravia.htm.
"We want to know what their concerns are, and if there are things we can do to make their lives easier," Slingluff said. "We know. I go to the stacks and look for books and sometimes they're not there. It affects us all."
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