Monday 24th Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Bodleian Library books giant storage site


Pictured above: the Radcliffe Camera building of the Bodleian Library.

Oxford’s Bodleian Library has found a new home for some eight million of Oxford University’s library books at a 300,000 sq ft site in Swindon.

It teamed up with Total Logistics to develop and define a book storage facility system, which could cope with its growing volumes.

As one of six legal deposit libraries in the country – meaning it is entitled to receive a copy of every book published in the UK – the Bodleian Library’s stock is growing at a rate of around 170,000 volumes, or five kilometres of shelf space, per year.

The new facility will be used to store books that are in low demand and support growth of the collection for the next two decades. Of the eight million books to be housed, it is expected that only 200,000 books per year will be requested by readers.

An 11-metre-high, narrow-aisled solid shelf racking system will be installed to provide quick access to the books. In total, the facility will have more than 250,000 metres of shelf storage space.

The site will also need to meet a more short-term challenge – accommodation of most of the New Bodleian stack contents. 

The New Bodleian Library – built in the 1930s and part of the Bodleian Library – is to have a major refurbishment to meet modern standards as part of Oxford University Library Services’ development strategy.

Once complete it will be renamed the Weston Library and will be repopulated with a selection of material back from the book storage facility.

The storage system needed to meet the guidelines set out by the National Archive Standards, which specify how books and manuscripts should be stored. Therefore, the volumes will be stored in specially-designed storage trays or boxes that are of conservation alkaline standard.

Other requirements that had to be considered were temperature and humidity, lighting, air conditioning and filtering, and fire regulations – all of which had to be taken into account at the design stage.

Readers will be able to request books from the new facility online. Located 28 miles from Oxford, the site in South Marston, Swindon, is on a direct route to the Bodleian Library, allowing for a reliable book-delivery service to the central Oxford reading rooms.

Construction on the site has now begun.

Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodleian’s librarian and director of Oxford University Library Services, said: “With a modern storage facility for its extensive collections under construction, the Bodleian is now entering an exciting phase of development of services. The book storage facility will be the catalyst for improved management of its collections and the transformation of the New Bodleian into a special collections library and public galleries.