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LIBRA - Penn Libraries Research Annex


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LIBRA - Penn Libraries Research Annex


new LIBRA sign
LIBRA's new sign
High density shelving, August 2011
High density shelving, August 2011
Library shelves on Penn's campus have been at capacity for over a decade. Since 1998, and until recently, the Libraries accommodated growing collections, prevented damage to books caused by overcrowding, improved shelving accuracy, and facilitated browsing and retrieving from open book stacks by transferring lesser-used volumes to an off-site facility. This space, leased from Drexel University and located on the ground floor of 3001 Market St., served to support the Libraries' charge to collect, preserve, and provide access to an ever expanding record of knowledge, while also allowing us to meet demands in campus libraries for the addition of study spaces, seminar rooms, and service hubs such as the Weigle Information Commons. However, the 3001 Market St. space, housing some 1.6 million volumes, reached capacity, and Drexel announced alternate plans for developing the property, necessitating a move.

In January of 2011, the Libraries began moving off-campus collections to the Penn Libraries Research Annex (LIBRA), a new facility at 31 Phoenix Drive, West Deptford, NJ. The selection of this site concluded more than a year of effort by the Libraries and Facilities & Real Estate Services to find a cost-efficient, adaptable, and long-term space to accommodate Penn's growing library collections and ensure rapid delivery of materials in both physical and electronic form.

The LIBRA site was selected because:
  • the building is in move-in condition. It is insulated and has a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
  • additional space is available for future expansion, including possible collaborative collection development with libraries beyond Penn.
  • an open floor plan allows us to optimize configuration of shelving units.
  • the building's 30-feet-high ceilings allow for full implementation of high density shelving, a shelving method that maximizes capacity and promotes preservation by housing materials by size.
  • there is ample space for staff, new materials processing, shipping books to campus by delivery van, and digital scanning workstations.
The relocation of off-campus collections to LIBRA involved:
  • installation of a fire-suppression system, upgrade of the HVAC system, and installation of floor-to-ceiling high-density shelving units (fall, 2010);
  • packing, transport, and unpacking of 1.6 million volumes (January through March, 2011); and
  • construction of an on-site reading room (to open in early April 2011).

Retrieval and delivery of print volumes and digitization of journal articles were available during the transition, and continued when LIBRA opened in early April of 2011.

For more details about this transition, see the LIBRA FAQ. Please contact Peter Collins, Director of Public Services, with questions and comments.