Students, Scholars and Researchers Will Need to Refer to Paper Archives for Generations

Students, Scholars and Researchers Will Need to Refer to Paper Archives for Generations

Oxford University’s Bodleian Library in the UK has unveiled a new, specially-built storage warehouse this week (October 2010) to contain the vast and expanding archive of books and maps it holds.

The library, which is entitled to a copy of every book published in the UK, has been struggling to find space for the more than 1,000 books it receives each day.

It is a valuable research resource for generations of scholars, students and researchers and includes many important historical documents including original copies of the 13th century Magna Carta.

These documents and other special collections and popular items will stay in Oxford and will not go into the new warehouse.

The new storage facility’s statistics are staggering. It has 153 miles of shelving arranged in 3,224 bays with 95,000 shelf levels and storage on the 23-acre site can be expanded to support the Bodleian’s storage needs for the next 20 years.

There are 600 map cabinets, able to hold 1.2 million maps and larger items and the whole unit’s floor space is the equivalent of 1.6 football pitches.

An estimated 200,000 requests for items are received by the library each year and over the next year around six million books are to be transferred to the new warehouse.

Managing requests efficiently will be part of the whole operation, with students able to order a book by 10am each morning and have it delivered to their chosen reading room by 3pm the same day.

Some documents may be scanned and sent electronically to computers and staff will be provided with fork lift trucks to help them retrieve requested books, which will then be sent to Oxford by road twice a day.

The story highlights how important archives of reference material are for many people and also the space needed for them along with careful attention to the logistics of storage and retrieval.

Most organisations will not need such vast storage space for their own records, but many do need to keep paper archives for some years.

Often, as in the case of will writers, solicitors, local and health authorities and accountancy practices, they are legally required to keep such records for defined periods of time, in many cases between ten and 20 years, it may not always be practical to scan them all into electronic form.

It is obviously more cost effective to keep such records somewhere away from expensive town and city centre office space and there are now plenty of edge-of-centre self-store facility that suit the purpose well.

Their security, 24-hour accessibility and the flexibility they offer in terms of the size of storage area customers can rent make self-store facilities an affordable solution for many organisations.

Customers can choose to install racking or shelving, filing boxes or cabinets in the units to be able to arrange their material in the way that most effectively suits their needs.

This provides them with an extension to their main headquarters without paying for the high energy, insurance and floor area costs they might need if the archives were stored on their own sites.

Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers