Where Did All the Books Go? Take a Peek Inside One of Kent State’s Specialized Storage Facilities
The fourth floor of Kent State’s University Library is the ultimate study space, complete with treadmill desks, cozy seats and the Math Emporium. But where are the books?
To make room for custom-made areas like these, more than five miles of shelving – filled with books – moved from the second, fourth and fifth floors of University Library to storage facilities, such as Assure Vault and the Northeast Ohio Regional Book Depository.
The facilities are two of five active storage buildings around Ohio that house and share books through an extensive system — partnering with the University of Akron, the Cleveland State University, Youngstown State University and Northeast Ohio Medical University.
“There’s a lot of different titles and a lot of different subjects here,” says Patty Bonecutter, library specialist at the Northeast Ohio Regional Book Depository.
Bonecutter, along with and Byran Zeppernick, buckle into secure harnesses before they load into a cherry picker that propels them as high as 30 feet to the very top of the facility.
At the top, under yellow-tinted lights designed to prevent fading of the books, Bonecutter and Zeppernick organize and search for items – including books, microfilm, journals and even vinyl records that are requested at libraries around Ohio.
The building is kept at 65 degrees Fahrenheit, with 48 percent humidity.
“You don’t want the paper too dry or too wet,” Zerppernick says. “You don’t want mold. You don’t want paper drying and crumbling up.”
Using a database and barcode system, Bonecutter and Zeppernick retrieve the items. They are then tagged and bagged before getting picked up and delivered to the requested library.
It is an extensive process in a digital age.
“There are still a lot of people who still like to open up a book, Zeppernick says. “They don’t like looking at a screen, so there still is a need.”
It is a need that is being met by all five storage facilities, which also allows for more study space in the library.