Library Storage Facility Now in Use; Mullins Renovation Set for 2019

A worker retrieves a book from the Library Storage Facility
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A worker retrieves a book from the Library Storage Facility

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University Libraries’ new high-density storage facility is now in use, increasing capacity for the university’s growing library collection of books and other materials. The building also helps free up needed space at the main library. The 27,000-foot, climate-controlled storage facility will hold approximately 1.8 million volumes when filled to capacity. The facility will also include a digitization and work space area, as well as an area for maps and microforms.

The transfer of low-demand books and other materials started last month and is scheduled to be completed in September. The new facility will house the majority of the Libraries’ print collections while Mullins Library will be renovated to meet the needs of today’s growing and technology-driven campus community. The university’s enrollment has nearly doubled in the last 20 years, creating higher demand for study areas, interdisciplinary collaborative spaces, creative workspaces and places for students and faculty to access electronic resources.

The main library renovations are scheduled to begin in January 2019. After the renovations are complete, a core collection of at least 500,000 volumes will remain in the campus’ five libraries, and access to all of the library’s more than 2.4 million volumes will always be available upon request.

“The new storage facility will help us meet the challenges of maintaining strong print collections while providing access to an expanding array of electronic resources and optimizing our finite user spaces,” said Carolyn Henderson Allen, dean of University Libraries. “Many large university libraries, including more than 85 percent of institutions in the Association of Research Libraries, utilize high-density facilities to help solve their storage problems.”

Use of print materials in the University Libraries dropped by 68 percent in the past decade, dropping from 96,028 items circulated in 2007 to only 30,765 last year. Meanwhile, downloads of electronic books continues to increase, totaling more than 475,000 in 2017, not including hundreds of thousands of additional downloads of electronic articles, chapters, papers and more that make up the majority of the research queries of University Libraries’ materials.

“Faculty and students have asked us repeatedly for more e-books and more publishers are allowing inter-library loans of books as well,” Allen said. “Changes in educational technology have altered the way students learn and how research is conducted. Today’s students and faculty use electronic journals and electronic books more than print books. But to be clear, all of our books will be either accessible in the main library and branch libraries or can be easily and quickly retrieved from the new facility.”

Advances in the electronic search and browsing functions of the Libraries’ catalog also benefit researchers.

The Libraries have maintained an off-site storage facility for more than 20 years to bolster the total storage capacity offered by the campus’ main library and four branch libraries. The new facility will replace the smaller off-site facility, which is now at capacity. Books were retrieved from the off-site facility twice a day in the past, but the frequency will be increased to four times per day from the new storage facility, providing better service and access than ever before.

A 2009 study of Mullins Library helped shape potential solutions to the growing challenges of space, emerging technologies and the Libraries’ growing collection. Campus input helped guide the planning for the renovation of Mullins and the transfer of books to the new storage facility. This included discussions with the Faculty Senate’s Library Committee in two open campus forums for students and faculty, as well as in separate faculty strategy sessions.

“The reinvention of the Mullins Library is a significant renovation undertaken with careful deliberation and is driven by the goal of being on par with the nation’s top public research universities and serving our nationally ranked departments and programs throughout the university,” Allen said. “The new storage facility gives us the opportunity to make a major transformation to the main library, offering an engaging and welcoming environment, expanded services, experiential learning environments, technology and innovation spaces, and collaboration places.”

Perry Dean Rogers Architects of Boston led the construction of the new storage facility and will lead the renovation of Mullins Library. The firm specializes in renovating academic libraries to accommodate the needs of twenty-first century students, faculty and researchers. Miller Boskus Lack is the local architecture firm working with Perry Dean Rogers Architects.

Information about the storage facility and renovation is available through an FAQs-style online resource.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

Kelsey M. Lovewell, public relations coordinator
University Libraries
479-575-7311, klovewel@uark.edu

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