Space Showcase: Libraries Satellite Shelving

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Libraries Satellite Shelving main areaIf you’re a regular reader of the Special Collections Research Center blog, you’re probably familiar with us talking about our work and what we produce for researchers. We process unique archival collections, we digitize materials so they can be used remotely online, we hold special educational events for classes and the community, and we definitely have a lot of fun doing it all. But where do we do it? And then where do we keep everything? North Carolina State University has several libraries and reading rooms spread across our campuses, but it may be surprising to learn that we have another building that houses most of Special Collections’ archival materials--we call it Libraries Satellite Shelving, or LSS.

We maintain a traditional department space and our service desk at D. H. Hill Library, but we have so many materials to store that we need LSS as well. We use this building both as a storage and a work space. There’s more room to spread out and process our large collections there, and space for handling oversized materials. Processing collections in the same space where we store them means we don't have to worry about transferring them between LSS and D. H. Hill when we're finished. When everything is completed, we put our materials away and publish our finding aids online so researchers can start requesting access.

Graduate student processing an architectural collection

We especially like using LSS to process architectural collections, because many of the materials are oversized and there's room to spread out. These kinds of collections can also pose tricky storage problems. Since materials don’t always fit into a nice and normal box, we keep them in oversize boxes, flat folders, or tubes.

Oversized storage

Custom containers and flat folder storage

Tubes and flat folder storage

Tube storage

Open flat folder drawer

However, LSS mostly holds regular sized materials. When we acquire collections, we store them in brown cartons, and as we process them, we shift them to new grey Hollinger Metal Edge boxes.

Shelving range

The most efficient way to store all of these containers is in compact shelving, which moves electronically along tracks on the floor and allows only one range of shelves to be open at a time. Most of the shelving at LSS operates this way.

Compact shelving range

Essentially, because Special Collections holds such a large variety and quantity of materials, using LSS as a storage facility and work space is a necessity for the department's operation. We keep LSS staffed throughout the week and maintain it as a safe and secure space to store our archival materials. It's not open to the public, but it definitely serves a very important purpose.