Cabell Library's first-floor stacks to be closed to browsers this summerMay 10, 2021
The VCU Libraries collection housed on the first floor of James Branch Cabell Library will be unavailable for browsing June 8 through as late as October 15 while aged shelving and old carpeting are replaced.
The current shelving--approximately 16,000 linear feet--dates to the original construction of Cabell Library in the 1970s. Structurally unsound and starting to buckle under the weight of the books, the shelving can no longer be repaired or modified with replacement parts or new support struts. “They don’t make parts for these shelves any longer. It’s a safety issue,” said Emily Davis Winthrop, the collections librarian overseeing the project.
New shelving units will be installed in phases over the summer. This will add approximately 2,000 linear feet of new shelf space to the first floor. Given the scale of the project, installation likely will continue into the fall semester. “We hoped the timeline would be tighter,” Winthrop said, “but there are a lot of moving parts to a project like this.”
Materials affected by the renovation will include print journals, government documents, the reference collection and circulating materials in A-E Library of Congress categories. These books include widely used books in history and psychology, among others. Categories of books affected are:
- Class A – General Works
- Class B – Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
- Class C – Auxiliary Sciences of History
- Class D – World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
- Class E – History of America
In addition, the project also will involve moving 30,000 books that have not circulated since 2005 to offsite storage.
Patrons using first-floor library spaces should prepare for noise and disruption as construction begins the first week of June.
Researchers are encouraged to plan ahead and check out needed materials before June 5. Library users may request books to be pulled and held for pick-up at the service desk, or for Front Door Pickup.
During construction, library staff will have limited access to the closed stacks and will work with patrons throughout the summer and early fall to retrieve needed materials.
“We are aware this project may inconvenience some researchers,” said Winthrop. “VCU Libraries will do everything we can to assist faculty and students in securing materials they need.”
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