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Through Summer 2023, the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center stacks is undergoing a multi-phase refresh and reorganization. This work will help us better position our print collections to meet the present needs of our library community and anticipate future developments and expansion of our collections. 

The ongoing project will allow us to quickly catch up on work that was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and take a proactive approach to managing our stacks to ensure we continue to have space for our collections to grow. 

Read on to find out more about the changes you’ll see in the Van Pelt stacks in the coming year. 

Project Timeline 

Please note that all dates are approximate and subject to changes. 

Summer 2022–Summer 2023 

  • Integration of the Reference Collection into the General Stacks 
  • Transfer of Selected Items to LIBRA 
  • Transfer of the 900s to LIBRA 

What to expect: Books on the move! This is when some items will move to different locations within Van Pelt and others will move to LIBRA. 

What we recommend: Checking the Franklin catalog to find out where these materials are now located.  

June–August 2022 

  • Removal and Replacement of 4th Floor Compact Shelving 

What to expect: Some construction noise and disruption on the 4th floor. 

What we recommend: Finding alternate study spaces in other library locations if you often study on the fourth floor. 

September 2022–June 2023

  • Transfer of Selected Items to LIBRA

What to expect: Occasional noise and disruption on the 4th floor. 

What we recommend: Finding alternate study spaces in other library locations while items are being transferred. 

Summer 2023 

  • Shifting and Realignment of Van Pelt Collections  

What to expect: Books on the move! This is when the bulk of the reorganization will take place. 

What we recommend: Checking the Franklin catalog and the Van Pelt floor plans to find out where these materials are now located.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

Where are books moving within Van Pelt? 

Some books are simply moving from one area of the Van Pelt stacks to another. Many reference items, like some specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries, will be integrated into the circulating collection so you can now borrow them for the first time. Other books will be regrouped to more closely align with their subject clusters so it will be easier to browse a particular area to find what you need. For example, Social Sciences will generally be grouped on the third floor, and Humanities on the fourth floor. Shifting these collections will also help us rebalance capacity so there’s space to add new items in print. 

Which books are moving to LIBRA? And how can I get them after they move? 

Most of the items moving to LIBRA are duplicate copies of books that will remain in Van Pelt or older material that is no longer referenced as frequently by patrons. In some cases, the books we’re moving offsite are now available electronically. 

Interested in getting a book from LIBRA? Simply request it through the Franklin catalog! It will arrive on campus—at the library of your choice—in one to two business days. 

I’m used to finding books where they are now! How can I find out their new location? 

The easiest way to find a book is to check its location in the Franklin catalog. As locations change, we’ll also update the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center Floor Plans and the stacks maps, which you can find in every elevator in the building. 

The majority of the shifting work will take place in Summer 2023, so you can expect to notice the most changes at that time. 

Why remove the compact shelving? Doesn’t it give us space for more books? 

The compact shelving units on the fourth and fifth floors were installed in the 1980s and they have become increasingly prone to mechanical failure. Replacing these shelves with regular static library shelving ensures that we can give you continuous and uninterrupted access to the library collections in Van Pelt. 

Why can’t all our books be kept on campus? 

Like most large academic libraries, our collection is simply too big to be held exclusively on campus. The Libraries’ print and digital collections include more than 6 million books, plus journals, databases, streaming video, musical scores, and more, with materials in more than 400 languages.  

And our collection is still growing! Our librarians work closely with faculty and other scholars to identify growing research areas and select new or underrepresented works that would help advance scholarship in the Penn community. Rather than discarding older and less-used items to make room for newer additions, we keep them safe, organized, and accessible offsite, so they can be delivered quickly to campus when they’re needed. 

More information 

As with any project of this size and scope, we anticipate that you may have additional questions. Please feel free to contact the Transfer Coordination Team at for more information. As the project proceeds, we will periodically share updates on this webpage.