Selecting Library Materials for High Density Storage


This document is intended to provide guidance in selecting items for transfer to high-density storage.



The University Library opened a high-density storage facility to house lesser-used library materials. In the model chosen, cost effective operations require that individual items circulate less than three times in a given year of operational time.



The Oak Street Facility provides a secure environment in a closed stack facility equipped with temperature & RH controls that significantly extend the life expectancy (LE) of library materials. When measured against other Library facilities, Oak Street provides an exemplary environment for reducing the deterioration of library materials.


Access to Collections at Oak St.

Retrieval of volumes from high density storage is frequent, with most items being made available as quickly as those now sent by campus mail to a borrower’s campus address or held for pickup at an on-campus library.


Titles transferred to the high density storage which experience significant use can be returned to a campus library, and if a scholar or student needs to consult a large number of volumes housed at the high density storage, arrangements can be made to do that consultation on site.


When is Oak St Not Optimal Storage

The principle underlying the operational value of high density storage is maintaining an annual average retrieval rate of less than 3%. Increasing the retrieval rate above 3% raises the operational costs of the unit above levels deemed cost-effective for such storage. While a 3% retrieval rate seems low, the logistics of retrieval from high-density storage combined with the sheer number of items in such storage makes maintaining the low circulation rate important. Consequently, when making decisions about whether an item should be sent to Oak St versus the Stacks, please remember that selection that increases the operational costs of the unit are not in the best interests of the University Library.


Identification of Items

In general, materials identified for housing in the Oak Street Facility should be considered part of a High Density, Non-Browsable Collection that would meet the following criteria:

  • good bibliographic access
  • projected future use remains low
  • items with alternate methods of access (backfiles, etc…)
  • not be critical to current scholarship but worthy of retention in a research collection


Selection Guidelines

The Office of Library Collections recommends that the following criteria guide the selection and growth of collections identified for transfer to the Oak Street Facility.

  • Duplicates. Care should be taken to not retain duplicate copies merely to avoid withdrawing them from the University Library’s collections. A copy currently housed in Oak St. should be considered the copy of record, and if additional copies of items are identified for transfer to Oak St, they should be withdrawn to avoid unnecessary duplication within the facility.
  • Online Resources. Texts that may reliably be found completely online (especially journals and indexes) with some possible exceptions for “core” journals. These could also include locally digitized or reformatted materials that are likely to fit other criteria for selection, i.e., low-use, duplicate copies, etc….
  • Low-Use Serials. Runs of rarely-used serials, with the indexes kept or moved to Stacks or other on-campus location.
  • Low-Use Monographs. Earlier portions of runs of active monographic series as well as individual monographic titles that demonstrate low use.
  • Out-dated Resources. Outdated textbooks, indices, and other resources unlikely likely to receive significant use.
  • Special Collections. Selected materials from special collections and University Archives or that fall within the collecting guidelines of said units.
  • High-theft Items. Items from within the general collections that are identified as likely candidates for theft.
  • Materials Subject to Regular Replacement. Government documents materials that are not subject to regular use, serial runs replaced by microforms, microforms replaced by online resources (unless scholarly necessity requires keeping the earlier version onsite), maps and map sets.
  • Gifts. Gift collections help fill gaps within our holdings, but not all gift collections are likely to receive high use. Gifts selected for addition to the collection are prime candidates for direct-to-storage processing.


Selection Principles

  • Identifying suitable materials for high density storage is part of a larger process of intelligently shaping the Libraries’ many browsable, on-campus collections in a manner responsive to the needs of users across all disciplines.
  • Just as selection for centralized, browsable storage (i.e, the Stacks) is an ongoing responsibility, selection for high density, non-browsable storage is an ongoing responsibility.
  • Materials selected should be identified by collection managers and should represent all library collections, formats and media, as appropriate storage furniture is installed.
  • Selection criteria will vary across disciplines, departments, and collections, but every discipline and collection has appropriate candidate materials.
  • The high density storage is devoted principally to shelving infrequently-used materials. On campus collection space will be used for materials that need to be browsed or that demonstrate more frequent use.
  • The identification of materials fitting the selection criteria outlined for RBML collections should be a prime motivation behind the selection process.
  • High density storage accommodates those library materials that most benefit from the facility’s optimal environmental, security conditions against theft and mutilation, and efficient use of staffing to manage low use collections.
  • Selected materials should have records in the UIUC Library Online Catalog or other appropriate access tools. The Library is to have a full level bibliographic record for each piece housed at the high density storage. The catalog records will mitigate the loss of direct physical access.
  • Selection requires varying levels of review depending on the material. Whereas entire categories of materials may be designated for high density storage, other types may need a more in-depth and individual title review.
  • Selection of appropriate materials is an ongoing responsibility; it will require continuing attention to the identification of appropriate materials for shelving in the remote storage, both throughout existing collections and among new and recent acquisitions.


Working Guidelines

  • Items that fall under the Library’s General Policies Governing Materials under the Care of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (http://cms/rbx/pdf/20090528_General_Policies_Governing_Materials_under_the_Care.pdf) should be sent to the RBML.
  • Items published before 1821 but not falling under the Library’s aforementioned guidelines for transfer to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library should be designated for RBOS and sent to Oak St. as appropriate.
  • Items with artifactual value (having, e.g., decorated bindings, manuscript notations, special marks of provenance, engraved illustrations) should be designated for RBOS and sent to Oak St. as appropriate.
  • Collection managers and staff acting on decisions to transfer to the Depository should not transfer unnecessary multiple copies to the Depository unless they meet aforementioned RBML selection criteria.
  • Material in need of preservation treatment (detached or partial covers, loose or torn papers, brittle paper) will not be transferred to the Depository without review by the Collection Management Team or the Preservation department.
  • Unless other acceptable criteria are proposed for individual call number ranges, the criteria that will be applied for management of transfer of materials from the Stacks to Oak St will be as follows:
    • Serials with online backfile surrogates
    • Monographs with a publication date of pre-1990 and no evidence of circulation. Items that don’t meet both of these criteria would remain in the Stacks.

Withdrawing Materials

This document does not supersede any existing policies or guidelines related to the withdrawal or replacement of materials from the University Library’s collection.

  • In general, last/single copies are not withdrawn. No copies identified as part of the CARLI Last Copy Pilot may be withdrawn.
  • The Campus Administration encourages the University Library to avoid retaining unnecessary duplicate materials.
  • When multiple copies are identified for transfer to Oak St and some are candidates for withdrawal, a condition check should be made of the items to be retained or discarded to ensure that the pieces in the most complete condition be retained.
  • Care should be taken when withdrawing material with bookplates. Every effort should be made to retain the copy which bears a bookplate.

Drafted – 8/2007

Revised – 11/2007, 12/2007

Approved – 1/2008 (CDC)

Approved with revision – 2/2008 (AC)

Revised 8/2010