SU Libraries

High-density book storage should continue at Syracuse University

Syracuse University should continue moving low-use library materials into high-density storage facilities.

High-density storage is a process in which items are stored with the intent of taking up the least amount of space possible. At SU, a building known as “The Facility” is that high-density storage complex, and houses more than 600,000 items from SU libraries.

The university can save money, extend the longevity of its books and increase the amount of student study spaces by moving more printed volumes into “The Facility.”

Transferring print volumes will save the university more than $1.9 million within the next five years, according to an April 2015 SU libraries report. This is because it costs $4.26 (in 2009 dollars) per year to keep a book on an open library stack, but it only costs $0.86 (in 2009 dollars) to store a book in high-density storage, according a 2010 council of library information resources study.


Moving forward, university libraries must remain considerate of students’ accessibility to these materials if the high-density storage practice is to be expanded. To ensure books that are essential to class curriculums on campus are not abruptly removed from campus, SU libraries must maintain a balance in the system that selects the materials that are moved to storage facilities.

All items that go into “The Facility” are low-use or never-circulated items, said David Seaman, dean of SU libraries. However, every item that is stored can be accessed with a request through SU libraries.

In the same way that this process is a cost-effective way to house books, it is also an effective way in preserving them. In the facility’s conditions, stored items can last up to 270 years, said Anthony Carbone, manager of the operation.

Moving rarely used print materials out of SU libraries and into “The Facility” will also improve student accessibility to study spaces on campus. This process will reinforce the university’s shift toward the learning commons model, which emphasizes community study spaces rather than the amount of shelf space available for books.

Universities have a fundamental responsibility to preserve academic materials and ensure that these resources are accessible to students. In continuing to move books into high-density storage facilities, SU can be more cost-efficient in looking to properly preserve its print volumes and enhance study spaces for students on campus.

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