Ten miles southwest of the vibrant energy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, an unassuming warehouse sits just off a wooded country road in Verona, Wisconsin. From its modest location and stature, not many would guess that this warehouse is home to over 100,000 volumes of rare books, manuscripts, and thesis works—with the goal to store well over a million volumes in the space over the next several years.
For UW-Madison, the warehouse represents more than just a place to put books-with 40 libraries stretched across the campus, it’s also a critical investment in the future of the university’s library system.
Many years ago, the UW-Madison Libraries started to notice an interesting fact-something that countless libraries around the world have come to realize. Libraries started to become less static and more dynamic. The days of a library simply being a place to access printed materials or serve as a quiet place to study were numbered, and spaces were transitioning to collaborative, social spaces with access to advanced technology.
The Space Management and Shelving Group at UW-Madison came to a realization-if alternative space for shelving and materials could be made available, approximately 30,000 square feet of library space across the campus could be immediately renovated to provide study spaces, computer-enhanced learning facilities, and updated library services.
At the same time, UW-Madison ranks as one of the most prolific research universities in the world, and in order to stay competitive, the library system knew they needed keep the materials they currently possessed while retaining the capacity needed to collect additional materials, and above all, keep those materials safe and useable for future and current researchers alike. Knowing these two priorities could co-exist, the Libraries reached out to Spacesaver, who had designed countless storage solutions across the campus over the past 30 years.
Working closely with the facility’s architects as well as library staff on the Verona project, Spacesaver’s planners designed an XTend® High-Bay Archival Shelving System with 12 movable carriages, each 18.5′ high and just over 60′ long. There are over 5,300 useable shelves in the system, each with a maximum capacity of 750 pounds. All of those numbers translate into one important one-the system has an estimated capacity of over 1.2 million volumes, meaning the UW Libraries can plan for the future in all of the ways they envisioned.
The storage system features three movable bays, which enables one Verona staff member to retrieve materials in one unit and still be able to move two other units. Within the bays, fully adjustable shelves ensure optimum storage density, as everything on Verona’s shelves is arranged not by title, author, or subject, but by size.
The storage thinkers at Spacesaver also were able to assist in additional ways, including designing custom carts to fit the facility’s order picker, working to make sure the installed high-bay system worked in tandem with facility’s fire suppression, climate control, and library archival systems The aisle floors of the system were even outfitted with wire guidance that automatically guide the order picker to guarantee equipment won’t get damaged and that library staff stays safe.
Eventually, the Verona Shelving Facility will hold 1.2 million volumes, and it represents a significant step for the university in terms of meeting demands for new library spaces while still best serving its wide range of researchers and users.
“I often refer to shelving as a lynchpin, because we’re doing other things with the space that print once occupied,” says Ed Van Gemert, Vice Provost for the UW-Libraries.