Significant growth has been the hallmark of Texas State University and the Albert B. Alkek Library. That growth is more than an increase in student population. Since opening in 1990, the library has accumulated a print collection exceeding 1.5 million volumes. The library is also home to the nationally recognized Wittliff Collections and a rapidly expanding University Archives.
This growth has created a critical need for additional space. A new collection repository will provide secure storage that will preserve collections while also providing an opportunity to reconfigure existing library space to meet the requirements of a 21st century academic library.
Despite a significant shift to electronic resources, information technology has not totally replaced print media and is not expected to do so at Texas State where new graduate and undergraduate programs are requiring additional information resources for faculty and students. Over time, as library space becomes increasingly more crowded, space for study, collaborating and learning will be sacrificed to secure space for collections.
High-density storage facilities offer 15 to 20 times the capacity of traditional library shelving. Collection repositories are typically built off campus and provide a courier or van service to deliver items to campus users. A number of academic and research libraries have high-density facilities to house collections, including Harvard University, Yale University, University of Chicago, the University of California system, and Rice University.
Texas State’s collection repository will house lower-use materials in environmental conditions for long-term preservation. The university has identified a location for the repository that is close to campus and designed to achieve maximum space efficiency at the lowest cost of construction.
The library staff is currently using several strategies to help address shelving space limitations, including working collaboratively with faculty to weed materials no longer essential, converting from print to electronic format for journals, and participating in consortia agreements for databases and electronic journal packages, expanding the collection without consuming shelving space. These strategies alone will not be enough for our growing university.
Despite these actions, the physical collection continues to grow. The library has begun placing selected materials in commercial storage near the campus. However, increasing reliance upon commercial storage is not a good, long-range solution. Creating a collections repository, while updating the Alkek Library as the central library for public access, is the ideal solution.