Administrators: Professionals must move books to library

By Gus Bode

It will take a lot more than volunteers to move more than a million books and electrical shelving back to Morris Library, administrators say.

Director of Plant and Service Operations Phil Gatton said moving books from the McLafferty Annex to Morris Library only accounts for between 15 and 20 percent – or $225,000 to $300,00 – of the project’s $1.5 million price tag.

‘The primary cost for the book move is not the move of the books, it’s the move of the shelving,’ Gatton said. ‘It’s not typical shelving; it’s shelving that moves. People are thinking we just need to move the books. That’s a very small part of it.’


The shelving unit is efficient because it can be closed when it is not in use and aisles can be opened electronically when needed, Gatton said.

To move the shelving, workers would have to disconnect the power; remove its control systems and all books; and take apart the shelves. They would then have to move all the material roughly 1.3 miles to Morris Library, Gatton said.

Dean of Library Affairs David Carlson said volunteers would not be able to move the books.

‘I have never seen a volunteer project effectively organize to move a million and a half books,’ Carlson said. ‘A few thousand books, maybe even a few ten thousand books, but a million and a half books a mile and a half from campus is a completely different animal.’

Carlson said when library administrators moved the books from Morris Library to McLafferty Annex in 2005, they hired a professional moving team and it took an entire semester to move the books.

But Steven Turner, chief of staff for Undergraduate Student Government, said it shouldn’t be too hard for student volunteers to move sets of books and keep them in order.

‘How hard can it really be to move some books and keep them together?’ Turner said. ‘If you get some willing, able students in there, it can be done.’


Gatton said some students have been used to move a small portion of the books to the library, but it’s difficult to coordinate and keep all the books in order when student volunteers are used.

‘There’s sequential numbering that goes on there, and that has to be organized,’ Gatton said. ‘You can’t just have somebody grab a book from McLafferty Annex and take it over to the library, because it has to be kept in order.

‘It is a monumental task to keep the books organized,’ he said. ‘The reason that this is especially difficult is that those books have to be taken and boxed, and then the shelving has to be taken apart and moved and put back in place, and then the books installed on them.’

Gatton said when students were used for part of the move from Morris Library to McLafferty Annex, there were mixed results. In some cases it worked and in others it didn’t, he said, but the process is more complicated this time because of the electronic shelving.