Regenstein on the move in 2011-2012

The Joseph Regenstein Library is gearing up for a big move this year.

The iconic limestone building itself isn’t going anywhere, of course. It’s the books within Regenstein that will be doing the moving. In fact, nearly every book in Regenstein outside of the Special Collections Research Center will be moved within the building over the next nine months. 

To find out exactly where and when books are moving, visit lib.uchicago.edu/h/move.

Why are the books moving?

The opening of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, and the transfer of some 430,000 print volumes from Regenstein to Mansueto, has created a unique opportunity for Regenstein staff to rethink how its collections are organized.

Regenstein’s bookstacks and reference collections have been bursting at the seams in the last few years, driven by the Library’s commitment to continue developing comprehensive collections for faculty and students even in the face of significant space constraints. Moving some material that benefits less from browsing into Mansueto provides Regenstein with much-needed growth space for new books, as well as a chance to rationalize and reorganize its collections in a way that best serves its users.

But why is the Library choosing to move nearly all of the collections within Regenstein? In part, necessity. The space created by moving material into Mansueto isn’t uniformly distributed throughout the bookstacks. In order to take advantage of that space, books have to be shifted throughout the library.

“While this significant move will cause some disruption while underway, our unique opportunity to rearrange the entirety of our collections following a careful and thoughtful planning process will provide a straightforward arrangement that will benefit researchers for many years to come. ” explains James Mouw, the Assistant Director for Technical and Electronic Services and Interim Assistant Director for Collections.

Toward that end, a task force was convened in 2008 to develop a plan for the reorganization. The task force considered arrangements at other research libraries, feedback from faculty and students, wayfinding studies, and circulation data in making its recommendations. A proposed model for both the reference collections and bookstacks was then taken to the Director of the Library and the Library Board and approved in 2010.

Where are the books going?

General reference material, which previously has been shelved throughout multiple reading rooms on the 1st through 5th floors in separate collections, is being merged into a single General Reference collection that will occupy the 2nd and 3rd floor reading rooms in a single alphabetical sequence. Specialized area study and research collections will be consolidated on the 4th and 5th floors to better meet the needs of area studies and text-intensive users. A small reference desk collection will remain on the 1st floor, primarily to serve librarians assisting patrons at the reference desk.

Reorganized Regenstein reference collections, coming Fall 2011

The bookstacks will see an even bigger change. The new arrangement will simplify finding material in the bookstacks by reducing the number of Library of Congress classes split across floors, while at the same time creating broad subject affinities on each floor that reflect the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of library research. As an example, D-DX (World History), which is currently split five times across three different floors, will be shelved in one sequence on the 2nd floor along with the other LC history classes, C-CT, E, and F. Classes will be also arranged in alphabetical order on each floor, further simplifying navigating the stacks.

Reorganized Regenstein Bookstacks, coming 2011-12

Other collections will also be moved. The Video/DVD collection will move from the 4th floor to the 3rd floor reading room, placing it in close proximity to the Recordings Collection and Audiovisual Room. The Harper Collection on the A Level will be integrated into the Bookstacks, as will monographs from on-campus storage and selected material from reading room collections.

The move will take place in two stages. The reference collections move, beginning September 19, will be completed during Fall Quarter, while the Bookstacks collections move is scheduled to begin in November and be completed by the end of Spring Quarter. The Library has contracted with William B. Meyer, a professional library relocation firm, to perform the move.

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