Patron safety and security is a top concern of the University Library. Built in 1924, the bookstacks were designed as a closed stacks. Lighting within the stacks is limited, ceilings are low in several locations, and there are few study areas. In addition, limited assistance from staff is available to patrons within the stacks. These issues are proving to be the most difficult and expensive to address. Progress is being made, however; the most recent improvement has been the installation of sprinklers.
Preservation is key. Many materials within the stacks are early editions and fragile. Preserving these materials and collections for future generations of users is of the utmost importance to, and a mission of, the University Library.
A massive amount of materials are in transit. These materials are currently being moved to the University's Oak Street Library Facility and stored in high-density shelving. The University Library has acquired over 10 million books and the bookstacks have become severely overcrowded. The Oak Street Library Facility provides climate control, and is well-suited to house fragile material, as well as infrequently used items.
As material is transferred out of the bookstacks, the remaining material, as well as items which have been shelved out of sequence, or in non-standard ways, can then be shifted into the reclaimed space. The downside of a having such a large collection, however, is that transfers and shifts take a very long time to complete. In the meantime, it can be difficult for users to locate material themselves.
The security of the collections within the stacks is a high priority. Theft has claimed various valuable resources. Restricted access and monitored entry to the stacks are key to the protection of material while the bookstacks are in this transitional period.
The University Library is working toward bookstacks that are better designed and more functional. Until this is completed, access to this integral part of the library will continue to be limited.