December 07, 2005

Library storage facility will open Jan. 3

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The McLafferty Annex, a home away from home for 33 miles worth of books and journals from the Morris Library collection, will open for business Jan. 3, a full two weeks before the start of spring semester at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Newer books and publications – basically the core of the undergraduate collection – and the vast majority of the library staff will remain directly available to the public on the first floor and basement at Morris Library, even as its upper floors undergo part of the planned five-year, $42 million renovation. Typically, such recently published materials are in higher demand, said David Carlson, dean of library affairs at SIUC.

"All the primary public services will be fully staffed at Morris," Carlson said.

McLafferty will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The approximately 2 million items moved to McLafferty also are available directly to library patrons who wish to travel to the site, about one mile west of the main campus. Library staff, however, are encouraging patrons to take advantage of the retrieval and delivery system, which will deliver items from McLafferty to the main circulation desk at Morris Library the same day as requested, and often within just hours.

Those seeking materials first should check SIUcat, Morris Library's online card catalog, which is available from the library's Web site at, to see if the item they need still is at Morris Library or relocated to McLafferty. At that point, they can choose to retrieve the materials themselves or put in a request for retrieval from McLafferty and delivery to Morris Library.

There are two ways to make a McLafferty retrieval request: online or in person. To make an online request, follow the link off the main library Web site or go to Click on "Request form for books" or "Request form for journals," and fill in the information.

In-person retrieval requests for items stored at McLafferty can be made at Morris Library only.

Once a request is made, employees will pick materials up at McLafferty and bring them to the main circulation desk at Morris Library based on that day's schedule. The daily schedules are as follows:

• Monday through Thursday, every two hours beginning at 10 a.m., with the last delivery at 8 p.m.

• Friday, every two hours beginning at 10 a.m., with the last delivery a 6 p.m.

• Saturday, every two hours beginning at noon, with the last delivery at 6 p.m.

• Sunday, every two hours beginning at 2 p.m., with the last delivery at 8 p.m.

Library staff will make deliveries within in two delivery periods in most cases, and staff member say they aim to satisfy patrons.

"If students say they need a whole section of books, we will deliver the whole section," said Susan Logue, associate dean for library affairs.

Carlson said he and the library staff are trying hard to minimize inconvenience and confusion during the renovation.

"We're hoping most people find the retrieval and delivery process an acceptable substitute," Carlson said. "There are going to be some inconveniences for all of us. But we hope we can minimize that."

Those patrons who want to physically browse the stacks at McLafferty will use its array of mechanical sliding bookshelves, which save room by compacting when not in use. The tracked shelving system eventually will be re-installed at Morris Library, where it will account for a large percentage of the net space gain, Carlson said.

Physical browsing also is available at Morris Library. Carlson said patrons also can browse in cyberspace by using SIUCat, which can show book titles that appear on the shelf right next to the one sought by a patron.

Many journals also are available in electronic form online, linked from the library's main Web site, Carlson said.

During the renovation, McLafferty will house about 35 library staff members, only a handful of whom are public service workers. The others work in support functions such as catalog and acquisitions. McLafferty also will house the Ulysses S. Grant Association.

Patrons who visit McLafferty will find a circulation desk, a few workspaces and computers. Carlson said the space is comfortable, if Spartan, in its accommodations.

"It's big and noise carries. It's like a warehouse," he said. "But it is very nice for a temporary storage area."

Carlson said the library faces a huge challenge in keeping the Morris Library collection available during the top-to-bottom renovation, currently scheduled for completion in June 2009. Staff will monitor the systems put in place during that time and will make adjustments if necessary.

"McLafferty will be open basically on weekdays during the day," Carlson said. "But if, for instance, we see people really clamoring to get in there at night or on weekends, we'll look at that.

"Ultimately, it comes down to money. We'd rather start with less and add more if needed," he said. "We talked to other libraries that have gone through similar renovations. We learned that many set up elaborate off-site areas, but that people didn't go there. We took that advice and public access at McLafferty is limited."

Carlson said the library plans an open house for the McLafferty Annex sometime in January.

Building and housing strong collections matched to the curriculum and research needs of the academic community is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.