Countdown to Completion at Dimond Library
Managing the Move Inch by Inch
By Tracy Manforte
UNH News Bureau
As staff of the University of New Hampshire's Dimond Library prepare to move into their renovated and expanded facility this summer, some may dismiss the transition as old hat. Been there, done that several months ago when the library was shipped to five different campus locations. Right?
Well, not exactly, explains Barbara Lerch, loan librarian and associate professor . Patient and polite in her response, Lerch begins to map out the meticulous process necessary to return hundreds of thousands of volumes to their proper place, as some 30 library staffers provide inventory figures for contractors Bibliotech, a New Haven, Conn., company specializing in library moves.
"On the way out, we had to make sure it fit in the space allotted with room to grow for about a year and a half. A lot went to storage," she explains. "It's nothing like moving back permanently and planning for the next 15 to 20 years of growth. More than making it fit, we want everything to be exact and have room to grow without having to make shifts."
The $17.4 million Dimond Library project is funded by state capital dollars and gift money. Completion is scheduled by the end of the summer.
Describing the library as a "living, growing thing," its contents constantly changing, Brian Maclachlan, of Bibliotech, explains that measurements used for the move out won't work now, 18 months later. As a result, library staff have been working feverishly -- counting, sorting and measuring -- since January.
Making a record of every library source continues for Lerch with periodicals, one of the most complex sections of the stacks. Data, spreadsheets, calculations and functions -- sounds more like Statistics 501 than librarians' work.
But Lerch says she enjoys number crunching and understands the importance of accuracy. Most of the inventory is done in teams of two, then about 90 percent of their work is checked by Bibliotech staff, who then plug the information into a database to plan for shelf space.
Lerch explains that in the main library alone, there are 111,000 volumes of periodicals totaling 15,500 linear feet or 3 miles. Based on further calculations, Lerch also knows this collection will grow approximately 6,000 inches a year. "All that will somehow mean something to the database."
Maclachlan makes sense of it all and demands accuracy and organization from all those involved. His experience includes projects at the State Library of California, the University of Connecticut System and Yale University.
He'll settle for nothing short of perfection.
"Being sequential and accurate is really the whole point," he says. "Anything placed out of order is, for all intents and purposes, lost forever until someone stumbles upon it."
It's a heavy responsibility, but staff have shouldered it with enthusiasm, according to Lerch. "Virtually anybody with anything to do with the library has been involved. We really get into it because it's so intense."
And by the end of August, once the miles of books are sorted and stacked in their posh Dimond headquarters, the rewards will be immeasurable.
July 2, 1998