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Library Quarterly Report FY22 Q2: October-December 2021

Spotlight: Gil Kenner Supervises Shifting Project (Part 1 of 2)

Image showing former librarian Angela Andrews shelving books.
Image showing space above shelf dust canopies close to ceiling tiles.
Image showing top shelf open during the shelf shifting project.
Image showing open library shelves during the shifting process.

On November 8, 2021 the library was notified by VTRC Business Manager Donna Cognata and Utilities Facilities Maintenance Worker for UVA Len Sheler that the local Fire Marshall had identified a safety issue involving the library’s primary shelving. The Fire Marshall said there was insufficient ceiling clearance for fire hoses to deliver water from the library door to a potential fire (which could only happen over the tops of shelves) to reach the rear portions of the library.


The library's original steel shelving space had run out years before and at that time the Fire Marshall frowned upon the practice of placing library materials horizontally on top of shelf dust canopies to the overhead ceiling tiles. That solution was also less than optimal because the materials were inaccessible to patrons and the dust canopies were not designed to bear weight. In that era the Fire Marshall required such items to be removed upon semi-annual inspection. 


Considering space limitations and the influx of "lost" materials during the era from 2002-2007 (when the library implemented its first online catalog and located tens of thousands of missing items, additional steel shelving was retrofitted to existing shelves to regain one shelf per unit, which placed the dust canopies about 4 inches from the ceiling tiles. The problem seemed agreeable to safety officials and the library passed every fire inspection from 2005-2021. 

Back to present-day considerations, the library weighed several alternatives and it became clear that the most feasible solution would be to shift the entire collection, leaving a row empty along either side of all shelf ranges without a back against a wall. To assist in that effort the library was given the use of Room 230 (a vacant office adjacent to the library) along with 5 non-adjustable wooden shelf units and one steel storage rack (totaling 246 lineal feet) from vacant offices in the Shelburne Building. 


To free up space in the library's main collection Gil Kenner, head of technical services, decided to relocate the library’s periodicals/journals collection to Room 230, then shift the remainder of the circulating collection to the empty periodicals space, leaving top shelves empty along the way. This would require time, energy and teamwork under Gil's supervision, as well as focus on this as his top priority for most of November and December, 2021. Part 2 of this report will be published next quarter. For a full description of the project and additional photos see: Shelf Shifting Project 2021-2022

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