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The SpaceMaster - Library Space Utilization

Many libraries face the problem of housing a growing collection within a space that either cannot grow or can grow only at great expense. To solve this problem, they may consider several possible ways to get more books into the same space. Increasing the number of shelves per face.

One possibility is to buy higher bookstacks to accommodate eight shelves per face instead of seven. The problem is that this puts the top shelf beyond the reach of many users.

Another possibility is to keep the stack height the same and accommodate the extra shelf by reducing the space between shelves. But, this means that a significant portion of the collection cannot be stored in the normal upright position.

Narrowing the Aisles
Aisle widths can be reduced so that more ranges can be accommodated. The drawback here is that lighting and accessibility will be adversely effected.

Conventional Shelving Layout
462 shelves
1386 linear feet of shelf space
420 square feet
The above drawing shows conventional cantilever shelving with more than half the space devoted to standard aisles.

Using Moveable Compact Shelving
The increasingly used technique of moveable compact shelving doubles the capacity of given area without altering shelf spacing or significantly increasing stack height.

Moveable compact shelving is shelving on carriages that ride on tracks on the floor. Being moveable, ranges can be massed or ‘compacted’ to save the space normally consumed by aisles. Ranges are moved (manually or electronically) to create an aisle only where one is needed. The space that would otherwise be devoted to multiple aisles becomes available to house the collection.

This drawing dramatically illustrates the effect of ‘compacting.’

Same Shelving in Less Space
462 shelves
1386 linear feet of shelf space
225 square feet
Note: Dark shelves are stationary, light shelves are moveable

The next drawing shows the original space with three aisles each serving (in this case) 8 or 9 moveable ranges. The moveable system provides more than twice the capacity in the same space through elimination of unused aisles.

Maximum Shelving in Same Space
924 shelves
2772 linear feet of shelf space
420 square feet
Note: Dark shelves are stationary, light shelves are moveable

The floor plan further illustrates how moveable shelving saves space. Compared to conventional shelving, the second drawing effects a 46% reduction in floor space required for the same numbr of volumes; the third drawing achieves a 100% increase in capacity in the same space.