Online Exclusive: High density library delays won’t impact students

By Brent Constantin

When students return to campus this fall, one of the biggest changes will be how they find books.

Before classes start the university plans to transport the bulk of its reference material to the new High Density Library facility in northwest Calgary next to the faculty of veterinary medicine. The move will change not only the way the university’s catalogue is accessed, but how it is maintained.

We’re not just storage, but we’re long-term preservation as well,” said HDL manager Blair Cherniawsky. “We do that in three ways; we maintain the temperature quite cool, we keep the humidity down to 30 per cent and we also make sure there are no lights on. So by using these three criteria, what we’re able to do is extend the life span of our materials by 200 years.”

The book movement has been briefly put on hold while repairs and renovations are being made to the building’s roof and fan system.

“There was a little bit of a problem with the adhesive on the roof and the construction guys were fixing it and then there was that hailstorm, so it was really bad timing,” said Taylor Family Library program director Jackie Bell. “We didn’t want to risk any of our collection being damaged so while the roof is being fixed we’re not moving anything.”

Cherniawsky said he is ready for the move and the operations of the new service, expecting the delays to only take a few weeks with everything ready in time for fall classes.

“I’d love to start now, but we want the roof finished first and we don’t want to move in and then have wet books,” said Cherniawsky. “They’ll be no delay from the students’ point of view, it was just that we wanted to get a good jump going in the summer and we’re not going to get that now.”

Currently, staff are working to barcode the 30-foot-tall shelving units which categorize books not according to topic, but size, before the organizing the initial load of low-use texts from the MacKimmie Library Tower.

“It started with the books that hadn’t been taken out for 25 years,” said Bell. “Then we progressed up the ladder in terms of books that hadn’t been used frequently but had been used in the last 10 or five years.”

Students are able to select texts online and deliveries will take place twice a day from the HDL to the MacKimmie Library. Exact times are still being decided.

“If they order the books in the morning there’s high chances that it will come that day, which is pretty positive,” said Students’ Union vice-president academic Alyssa Stacy. “It’s going to be pretty fast delivery.”

Though there will be a small reading room in the HDL students aren’t able to actually browse the storage areas of the warehouse and, due to the location of the facility, are encouraged to take advantage of the delivery system.

“There’s worry that it’s going to take too long, that a lot of students like browsing and they’re worried that the HDL is going to take that away,” said Stacy. “But library resources have actually assured that it’s going to be catered more to those students who do browse.”

“Right now they’ve got complete access to the collection that’s at the MacKimmie Library. The problem is finding everything, it’s a very large library,” said Cherniawsky. “Our catalogue is such that we’ve come a long way in the last ten years. You can actually browse the catalogue quite well.”

Stacy thinks getting students up to speed on the process of the new facility will prove a major challenge. Informing students of what the High Density Library is and how to retrieve books is a priority as the repairs near completion.

“Definitely we want everybody to know that books will be on the move,” explained Bell, who said that the school will be contacting students and program areas about book availability though the semester. “Generally we think they’ll be out of circulation for maybe a week, but it’s always good to plan ahead as a student and as a faculty member.”

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