Stacks Management

Feb 14, 2007

If the Stacks Management Unit were to have a motto it would probably be something along the lines of "Location! Location! Location!" There are a number of things that Stacks Management is responsible for but our primary job is to return all used and checked out materials to their proper location within the building. Although this sounds straightforward, when you stop and consider the library has over 2.5 million volumes, insuring that each book is placed on the shelf in call number order is not only critical but can be quite daunting. With books spread out over 4 floors, 7 tiers and a storage building, finding each individual item's correct location can be a challenge.

The location process starts in an area known as Temp Shelves. This behind the scenes shelving system is set up to mirror the library's organization on a much smaller scale. After books have been checked back in they are loaded on a truck and pushed into this area. Students then unload the books to their correct call number shelf. The books are then sorted into call number order, loaded back on a truck and labeled with a card. Students then push the carts to the appropriate location and re-shelve the books.

The typical person usually does not stop and think about how a library fits all the books on the shelves. But, ponder this situation: The Iowa State University Library adds about 50,000 new titles to its collection every year. The building certainly doesn't grow every year. So how do all the books magically find their home on the shelves? Stacks Management performs this sleight of hand. There is an ongoing process of measuring available shelf space, calculating needed growth space and moving of books to make room for more. Besides these ongoing projects Stacks does an annual collection measurement. This process involves measuring and documenting the number of inches of shelf space that are actually being used in the library. We currently have approximately 28 miles of books. That is enough to drive from Ames to Des Moines!

Other tasks that are done by Stacks include opening and closing the building, assuring security and safety for all occupants of the building, tearing down and building any new or outdated shelving within the library, processing and filling requests for the Vet Med Express and the Storage Building Delivery services, and managing the Library's Research Study Rooms.

With so much to do Stacks is the largest student employer in the library. During the year there are anywhere from 20-60 students that work for the Stacks Management Unit. The full time staff are responsible for coordinating schedules, supervising students and assigning projects, along with analyzing data and maintaining normal operations.

Stacks Management is located on the first floor near the Circulation Desk.