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Craig Preservation Lab


The Preservation Lab at IU Bloomington shares the same address as our Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF)- a compact storage facility on the edge of campus designed to hold 6 million book volume equivalents. Most of the time, we enjoy being away from the parking hassles and student congestion of the main campus libraries, but increasingly we’re finding issues are cropping up with transportation of collection materials. ALF currently stores 3.2 million books, manuscripts, maps, architectural plans, film reels: you name it! Combine this with transport needs for the items we’re working on in the Paper Lab and General Collections Lab and quite a lot goes back and forth each day.

Much of the work the Paper Lab handles is transported using personal vehicles, for a number of reasons:

  • It’s often easier and quicker to just do it yourself.
  • I can be available to consult with subject librarians and archivists if they deliver items in person.
  • Flat paper items often do not fit into the totes utilized for book delivery.
  • I get a chance to visit satellite libraries and reinforce professional relationships.
  • I can rule-out mishandling of items during transit.

However, recent developments are causing us to reassess some of these habits. Our Geosciences Library closed, with much of the collection coming out to ALF. I’ve also implemented a rolled-storage method of housing campus architectural plans out here (representing a significant portion of the University Archives holdings). Additional pressures have arisen to store items from other campus entities that don’t always fit the mold of tote-able goods. There are also liability issues with the transport of university property in personal vehicles. All of this means that more and more requests are coming in for items whose transport needs haven’t been formally considered.

ALF employees currently make a five mile round trip once a day to deliver requested items to patrons at campus library locations. A second trip to the main library (Wells Library) occurs too. Books are packed onto shelved A-frame style carts and strapped to the walls of a box truck. There is also a separate Library-wide mail service originating at Wells; rigid plastic totes are used by this unit. In order for oversized materials (either on a rigid tube, or foldered/flat boxed) to be transported by either service, they must be packed securely and robustly, strapped down when appropriate, be weatherproof and capable of delivery by one person. Packing must also be straightforward on both the shipping and receiving end for conservator and general library employee alike.

So, after some searching for products to meet these specifications, we’re going to pilot two types of cases: a rigid tube and a reinforced case.




The interiors of both cases can be filled out with Plastazote and/or Volara foam for clean, discrete and archival padding. Existing delivery routes and workflows should not need to be changed. I forsee some training needed by those who manage collections and staff reading rooms, but nothing that an instructional session and some printed guidelines can’t solve.


  • Doug Sanders says:

    Thanks for the question. Yes, they’ve held up. The reason being less one of durability than frequency. I don’t think we’ve had a single item requested by patrons for off-site (ALF) stored materials that fit into this type of transport case. I’ve used both tube and case a number of times to shuttle preservation work back and forth to campus. The tubes are quite lightweight, but the large reinforced ‘roadie’-type case can be very difficult for one person to lift, once filled. They are best suited for a truck–> loading dock–> cart or dolly–>recipient delivery methods.

  • Fletcher Durant says:

    So after 9 months, how have the tubes and the reinforced cases held up? Have the interior foam pads remained with the cases, or have they wandered off?

    We are revisiting out transportation procedures at UF, and I would be happy to hear any lessons or insights you may have gathered!

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