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Cambridge University Library to expand collection at Ely storage facility

By Ben Comber

Breaking ground on library off-site storage facility
Breaking ground on library off-site storage facility

A £17.1million off-site storage facility broke ground in March on the outskirts of Ely.

The new facility will expand capacity of the 2.5million books stored on 31.8 miles of shelving at Cambridge University Library.

It is hoped that the first books will begin arriving from early 2018 to the Lancaster Way Business Park, near Ely.

The business park is built on the site of former World War Two bomber base, RAF Witchford. At current estimates, the store would not reach capacity until 2030 at the earliest.

It will provide long-term storage for low-use printed material acquired by the main University Library, affiliated libraries and other faculty and departmental libraries of the university.

The off-site storage facility will provide 65 miles of storage space on around 30,000 shelves. There is also potential to expand the site by 25 percent in the longer term.

Acting University Librarian Professor Chris Young said: “The new store will help resolve the problem of chronic overcrowding of libraries across the university and ensure that the most appropriate printed material is kept in the most appropriate and useful location for all our readers.

“The off-site storage will also help the University Library support teaching, learning and research by allowing us to plan new spaces and rethink our existing facilities and services. Only very low-use material will be considered for ingest for which there is little expected future demand.

“Through its Legal Deposit role the University Library has been collecting and preserving the published output of the UK and Ireland in all its variety since 1710, helping to build one of the world’s great academic library collections. The new store will ensure that we fulfil our responsibilities as a national repository of research material by enabling us to house the publications in suitable conditions and make them available to future generations of researchers and library users.”

Once the migration process is under way, the delivery of printed material to the Ely store is expected to continue as a high volume activity until at last 2025.


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