Regenstein bookstacks in a new light

Users entering Regenstein’s bookstacks will soon find it easier to shed a little light on their research thanks to an upcoming project to replace light switches with occupancy sensors in Regenstein’s bookstacks. Work will begin March 25 and continue through May.

This project is part of a broad University initiative led by the Office of Sustainability and Capital Project Delivery of Facilities Services to increase energy efficiency across the campus and is the largest individual project of its kind undertaken by the University. The University, which pays for such projects from central funds and also realizes the savings in long-term energy costs, anticipates an annual saving of 783,000 kWh, which translates to roughly $66,000 per year.

Never search for a light switch again

In addition to saving energy, the lighting project will also make it much easier to use the bookstacks.

Rather than searching for a light switch that turns on the lights for several aisles at once, users will be able to simply walk into an aisle, and motion sensors will turn on the lights in that aisle automatically. The lights will remain on as long as someone is actively using an area of the bookstacks, instead of turning off automatically after 15 minutes.

a motion sensor

Motion sensors like the one pictured will soon control lights on the upper floors of Regenstein bookstacks.

On the 2nd to 5th floors, motion sensors will detect movement within an individual aisle and turn on the lights for that aisle. After 5 minutes of no movement, the lights will turn off automatically. Turning the lights back on is as easy as waving a hand.

On the B Level, lights will be controlled by the same floors panels that control the compact shelving. Entering an aisle and stepping on a floor panel will turn the lights on for that bay of compact shelving. After 10 minutes of no occupancy, the lights will turn off automatically.

Time periods were selected based on testing conducted in a section of the stacks during winter quarter, as well as on feedback solicited from students and faculty.

In addition to the bookstacks aisles, stairwells in the bookstacks will also see improved lighting controlled by motion sensors.

Retrieving books during the project

Replacing dozens of light switches with hundreds of occupancy sensors is no simple task. Work will take place Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Library users are asked not to enter aisles while work is in progress. As a result, several aisles in the bookstacks will be inaccessible on a daily basis until after 3 p.m. Work on most aisles on the 2nd to 5th floors will be completed in a single day, while work on the B Level will take two to three days per bay on average.

Users will be asked to retrieve items from inaccessible aisles after 3 p.m. If you need an item urgently and cannot retrieve the item yourself after 3 p.m., you may speak to Library staff at the Regenstein Circulation Desk and request the item be paged and held for pickup for you the following morning.

For more information, including where work is taking place on a given day, visit

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