Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Future of Special Collections

Library Staff are looking at how we handle the return of collections and services to the Special Collections building at Central and Edith. The building is currently being renovated. We are expecting to get occupancy in June and hope to reopen it in August or September 2011.

We have held a public meeting (April 30th) to seek input from regular customers of the building and the collections housed there which include genealogy, local history, New Mexicana, Center for the Book and archives (such as the Ernie Pyle papers).

Library Staff are considering two options: return all materials (some now temporarily at Main on 5th and Copper) to the Special Collections building or leave part of those materials, specifically genealogy, at Main.
Some key factors that we have to consider:
  • The Special Collections building has run out of shelf space and has little room for future growth of any of the collections. As the sole collector of local Albuquerque history we need to have room for growth.
  • The main stacks at the Special Collections building should be closed to the public and items shelved there retrieved upon request. The main stacks cannot be properly supervised by staff as they include multiple dead-end aisles, multiple access points and are very narrow. Library Staff cannot reasonably assure customer safety in these stacks nor can library staff assure the security of the collections in these stacks.
There are two opposing viewpoints shared by the regular genealogy users.
  • Stay at Main: Many customers prefer genealogy being housed at Main because the hours are better, parking is better, and the space is more open. There are concerns about the bathrooms at the Main library and safety in using the parking garage, as well as the limit of two hours free parking. 
  • Return to Special Collections: Many customers would prefer genealogy be housed at the Special Collections building because of the historic building with all its architectural features and character. There are concerns about the new parking regulations coming into the neighborhood, the possibility of the main stacks being closed to the public, and the collections again being scattered in different rooms.
Library Staff will consider the options and customer comments, and present a plan by May 31st about how we proceed.

[from the library website]

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