Why are we relocating some library collections?

As part of the University of London’s strategy for the future, which aims to deliver a high performing organisation, whilst maintaining its position as a centre for academic excellence, the University of London is undergoing an ambitious programme of investment and development.

As part of this programme the lower ground floor of Senate House is being redeveloped into an open plan office environment for the University’s administrative function. This will release significant space on the ground and first floors, which will then be re-purposed into a variety of exhibition, teaching, lecture/conference and social spaces, providing a greater opportunity for academics and representatives from our member institutions to use the space when visiting Senate House.

In order to facilitate this project, Senate House Library will be vacating certain areas of the lower ground floor that are currently used as closed access collection storage space for some of the Library’s collections.  Materials displaced by this will be relocated internally – within and between existing Library stores in Senate House and our off-site Depository Library in Egham, Surrey – as well as externally to a new third party storage location in West London.  In general higher use and significantly older materials will be retained in closed onsite in Senate House, intermediate use material will be transferred to the new third party storage facility (as there will be two deliveries a day), while lower use material will be re-located to our existing Depository off-site store.

What is moving?

Once informed of the need to vacate the space concerned the Library undertook a review of its closed access collections (both Modern and Special Collections and research archives).  Material was thereby assessed and allocated to the most appropriate storage location available according to a variety of different factors including level of usage, coherence of sequence / ease of retrieval, level of cataloguing and age and condition of material.

All of the material and collections involved are already in closed access (ordered from the Stack Service or from Special Collections) and will remain so.  The collections involved will be certain sequences from the Library’s Special Collections and research archives, Modern Collections material from the Commonwealth, Germanic and Latin American Collections as well as certain Depository sequences including the Parliamentary Papers and Law Reports collections (many of which are available electronically via the Library’s online resources).

How will access be affected?

During the relocations, the catalogue records for material will be updated to reflect the new locations and readers will continue to be able to request material as they do at present.  Inevitably certain materials will be unavailable for a brief period while they are in transit between locations and we will be working with our contractors to minimise this disruption.  Materials in transit are likely to be unavailable for up to 48 hours depending on the location.  Material may be requested as normal and readers will be informed by email once their requested items are available.

There will be two deliveries per day (excluding weekends) from the new storage facility – a morning delivery for items requested the previous afternoon/evening and an afternoon delivery for items requested that morning.   Items requested from the Depository are normally available within 24-48 hours of request (excluding weekends).

Project benefits and future plans

As part of the project, the Library is undertaking some additional work to enhance the identification and improve the retrieval of certain sequences of Modern Collections, Special Collections and research archives.  The University currently intends the new third party storage facility to be a temporary medium term location while options to fulfil the University’s long term library and archive storage requirements are investigated and solutions delivered.