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BSF, ASRS, VNA and Other Book Related Words

Back in the 20th century book lovers learned words like buckram, foxing, and dog eared. Today there is an entirely new set of terms to learn. Try ASRS, VNA, ARC, Barn, BSF. By and large these are acronyms. They stand for Automated Storage and Retrieval System, Very Narrow Aisle, Automated Retrieval Center, Borrower’s Automated Retrieval Network, and Book Storage Facility. They are all associated with the new trend in libraries to move away from expanding single buildings and storing lesser used materials in another location. Some libraries are fortunate and they can build storage facilities next door to their existing buildings. Other libraries, those in more urban areas for example, have looked for more affordable locations and portions of their collections are stored miles away, sometimes the book are even in another city.

Does BYU have a remote book storage facility? No, we are lucky that we don’t need one. As it happens at BYU we expanded our library just over a decade ago. That expansion added years to the useful life of the building. Even so, librarians began to calculate the year the expanded building would fill and it wasn’t too far off. Then two things happened. First, faculty and students made the switch to online journals and other resources. Academics had predicted the switch would happen back in the 1990s but back then there were few online options for scholars. Once there were enough peer-reviewed materials online the switch happened quite clearly and the library was happy to provide online materials in alongside printed items. With print journals declining in use librarians initiated the second change, compact shelving. The library is in the process of moving lesser used print journals to a new location on level 1 of the library. We are tracking the materials we move to make sure we can keep popular items easily available. The combination of fewer print subscriptions and the installation of high density compact shelving will let us keep our materials in one building for longer than anyone expected. This will make it easier for researchers to access materials and it is much more cost effective than building a new facility. Is there a downside? Well, we are a little jealous of the librarians who have robots pull their books.

As extra bonus is that the space on level 2 where the older periodicals were shelved is now filled with new study tables and comfortable reading chairs. We hope you enjoy the change. Meanwhile on level 1 shelving is going in. you can compare how many shelves fill a space when you use compact shelving with one aisle for six or eight units verses an aisle between every set of stacks.