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The Library Storage Facility is a major University capital project to provide long term storage for low use printed material acquired by the main University Library, affiliated libraries and other faculty and departmental libraries of the University. As one of the world’s greatest research libraries, the new facility is essential so we can meet our responsibilities as a place of legal deposit, help preserve the scholarly record and enable the most effective use of space across our libraries.

As designed, the Library Storage Facility will provide capacity for 106 kilometres (or 65 miles) of storage space on about 30,000 individual shelves.

The Library Storage Facility will house books and other printed items in a warehouse environment of very narrow aisles between high banks of static racking (shelves). The design builds on best practice at peer institutions like Oxford and Yale.

Items will be retrievable for readers on request through iDiscover.

The Library Storage Facility will:

1. Provide libraries of the University with greater flexibility in managing space and providing easier access to high demand collections.

2. Help resolve lack of storage in working libraries across the University and ensure that the most appropriate printed material is kept in the most suitable and useful location for readers.

3. Ensure the last print copy of a Cambridge University Library holding is retained as a University asset for future research as part of our responsibility to preserve the scholarly record.

4. Make accessible more material for research and learning by housing material that is currently not available and held in remote stores.

The project has now proceeded through planning and design stages and construction work has commenced on site, near Ely.

Processing of low use material to be relocated to the Library Storage Facility has already commenced and we expect the store to be open to start receiving the material in Spring 2018. We anticipate the store will reach capacity by 2030 and there is potential to expand by 25% in the longer term.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What material is going to the new Library Storage Facility?

A: Libraries within the University of Cambridge receive thousands of new books every week. The new Library Storage Facility will provide additional space to store low use material and will therefore not affect material that currently has moderate or high demand. Items moved to the store will also include the materials currently being held in remote stores.

Q: How do you measure low use?

A: Although there is no standard measure of low use, libraries will use borrowing data, professional expertise and evidence from in-house consultation with readers to identify items which are considered to be low use. To help make these judgements Cambridge University Library works within a national framework alongside the British Library and other members of the UK Research Reserve (UKRR) consortium.

Q: Once an item has been relocated to the Library Storage Facility, can it be retrieved?

A: Yes. Readers will be able to request the item through iDiscover which will be retrieved for consultation within 48 hours during the first phase when we are still ingesting material into the store. It is our expectation that the turnaround time will reduce to within 24 hours after the ingest phase. We are also exploring other ways to make the content available, for instance through a scanning service. We will provide more information as we move towards operational service later in 2018.  

Q: Can readers visit the Library Storage Facility and consult or browse items on site?

A: No. The Library Storage Facility is a working warehouse environment and is not designed to accommodate readers. The material within the store will be housed in a manner which will make conventional browsing impossible.

Q: Will all University of Cambridge libraries contribute material to the Library Storage Facility?

A: Libraries that will have the opportunity to transfer low use materials to the Library Storage Facility include the University Library and faculty and departmental libraries. There are no plans in this first phase to include materials held at college libraries or libraries of associated but non-University bodies, though this could be considered in future.