Summer is gallivanting into Durham, and with it comes the promise of a new beginning for the Rubenstein, one involving fresh paint, new shelving, and a touch of tenacity. In a month, we’ll begin moving our materials and ourselves into our beautifully renovated home. Some Rubenstein spaces—like the Gothic Reading Room—will remain lovingly preserved, testaments to the memories that came before and to the new scholars who will soon discover them. Others will be similar in name only. I’m looking at you, Rubenstein stacks.
I’ve heard a lot about the pre-renovated Rubenstein stacks during my nearly two years here. The creaky elevators, the nooks, the crannies, the many doorways. These quirks are part of the collective Rubenstein conscious, and they’re spoken of fondly, frequently.
And while we’re sad to lose those charms, we’ve also been granted an opportunity to refine systems, to make materials more visible and easy to locate. We’ll no longer have a maze of classification schemes but one: Library of Congress. All of our print materials will be clustered by size: double elephants will chill next to double elephants; folios next to folios; mini materials next to mini. This is all great news for those of us lacking inner compasses. It also brings us to a logical question: how do we go about mapping locations for thousands of materials in this brave new world?
Easy! We turn to Tableau, a nifty data visualization service the lovely folks at Data Visualization introduced to us. Tableau allows subscribers to turn data into graphic representations that move far beyond bar graphs and pie charts—although it does have options for those as well.
Because we’re moving to a standard classification scheme, we now have more ways than ever to visualize our collections: we can look at overarching trends using the main classes of LC (e.g., “P” for Language and Literature or, “N” for Fine Arts); we can also get more granular than that. Within LC, there are subclasses that further delineate topics. PR—English Literature—is a subclass of Language and Literature, as is NA—Architecture—for Fine Arts. We can even delve deeper than that, looking at how many items are within a specific range of class numbers (e.g., PR1000-PR1100). With Tableau, we can then turn these data points into visual c(l)ues:
This visualization breaks out our print holdings first by size designation (12mo = duodecimo; 8vo = octavo; 4to = quarto), then by subclass. Looking at this, we know that we have substantial chunks of duodecimos classed in “B”—Philosophy, Psychology, Religion. We can also see that there are relatively fewer quartos and folios classed in Philosophy, Psychology, Religion. By doing this legwork, we know that we should probably leave extra space in the duodecimo section for materials classed “B.” Conversely, we also know that we won’t need to leave quite as much room in the folio areas for materials classed similarly.
Using a data visualization service has allowed us to be more accurate, more efficient, in our planning today so we won’t have to do as much shifting in the future. (Sorry wonderful colleagues! I can’t promise that we’ll never do shifting.) My own hope is that by doing this methodical (and methodological!) plotting today, the new stacks will be spoken of with the same fondness as the old stacks—albeit with less reverence toward crannies.
Anxiously awaiting our renovated space? It’s coming! From July 1st-August 23rd, the Rubenstein will be closed as we move into our permanent home. On August 24th, we’ll reopen to one and all.
Thanks to Mark Zupan and the Duke Libraries Renovation Flicker page for the excellent pictures; thanks also to Data Visualization for showing us its cool offerings!
Post contributed by Liz Adams, Collections Move Coordinator
It’s confession time: I started working at the Rubenstein after we moved onto the 3rd floor of Perkins. This means that I never gazed up at the ceiling archway of the Gothic Reading Room, and I never wandered our old stacks, traveling the well-trod paths—literally and figuratively– of those librarians who came before me. Our impermanent home is the only one I’ve known. And in truth, I’ve always had a hard time imagining what came before and what comes after. Architectural plans, while incredibly helpful, don’t always capture grand staircases and hidden crannies.
Luckily for all of us, Kat Stefko, the head of Rubenstein Technical Services, and I recently returned to our once and future home. We put on our fanciest construction gear and walked around the floors, all the while marveling at the differences in scale between our temporary location and our new one. Check out the maps cabinets! They are the very definition of bright young things.
With a handy ruler, we were also able to measure the shelf clearance for our new manuscript shelving units. I’m happy to report that our larger manuscript boxes will fit safely and snuggly on each shelf. Can you imagine these filled with boxes?
And just because I mentioned the scale earlier, look at how tall these units actually are! I’m not a small person, but these are the equivalent of two of me. (Don’t worry, fellow staff members and curious readers: our ladders will be sturdy and strong.)
Although we at the Rubenstein love a good field trip, we didn’t tour the stacks just to tour the stacks. We wanted to gain a better sense of how to move our materials from our current abode to our new one. As July 1st swirls closer, we need a solid moving plan, one that takes into account tight turns and elevators, lines of visibility and door widths. Our spaces aren’t quite complete, but we found it incredibly helpful to walk the pathways we’ll take in July, to imagine materials moving at fast clips down hallways and into elevators. It was all enormously satisfying: we know that we can make this move happen, and we’re well on our way to figuring out how to do it.
Post contributed by Liz Adams, Rubenstein Move Coordinator.
While we at the Rubenstein were unable to commemorate the New Year with a ball (or perhaps pickle?) drop, we do have a lot to be excited for in this newest of years. After a stint on the third floor of Perkins, we’re finally making the trek to our permanent location—a location that while physically close, has occasionally felt as though it were light years away. In July 2015, the staff and collections of the Rubenstein will move (ourselves) home.
Perhaps because we conquered a move once before, we’re feeling ambitious, even a little daring. In addition to moving nearly 18,000 linear feet of onsite material (plus offsite material!), we’re also reclassifying our entire print holdings into a single, unified system: the Library of Congress classification. No longer will we have 120+ different call number systems, ranging from Riess C246I to E F#1275. Now, all our call numbers will follow the same alphanumeric system, one that is used by the larger Duke Libraries system. Here’s how the two call numbers above might be classed in the future:
A brief lesson about Library of Congress classification: those lines of alphanumeric text all have specific meanings outlined the Library of Congress classification schedules and its associated texts. The first lines of letters and numbers (e.g., HV6533) always refer to the subject of the work. In case you were wondering, HV refers to the subject “Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology.” The subsequent lines are then used to provide additional clarity, narrowing in on topics, geographic locations, authors, title, and even formats. The LC classification thus packs a huge amount of information into a scant amount of space.
So how will this help the Rubenstein (and you)? By moving to a single system, we’re making our collections more browsable, both for staff and for researchers. Since every call number has a subject associated with it, we can conduct both granular and broad searches in our catalog (and if you’re staff, in the stacks). We’re also making it easier for our staff to pinpoint the locations of items. With 120+ call numbers, there are lots of pockets in the stacks where an item might live. Library of Congress will not only unify our call number system but will also create stronger shelving practices. There will be a place for everything, and everything in its place.
Some of these advantages won’t be felt until we move into our new space and finish out the reclassification project. Others are already making their presence known. Because our call numbers are now tied to specific subjects, we can use our current data to pinpoint collection strengths, weaknesses, and gaps. We’ve been able to develop some very cool data visualization:
While we knew (and probably could have guessed) that a substantial proportion of our print work falls into Language and Literature, other topics are a little more surprising. Who knew we had works about general Agriculture (S), Plant Culture (SB), and Animal Culture (SF)? I certainly didn’t, but now that I know, I might just be tempted to brush up on my knowledge of farm life.
There’s still a lot to do, but we’re making steady progress in our reclassification project and our many other move preparation projects. And we’re very happy to say the Rubenstein Library is on the move!
A special thanks to Noah Huffman and Angela Zoss in Data Visualization for creating the incredible visualization featured in this blog post. It’s a real beauty.
Post contributed by Liz Adams, Collections Move Coordinator at the Rubenstein.
Construction on the new Rubenstein Library is in full swing. Library staff and patrons have no doubt observed the temporary walls around the library building, seen the giant crane in the loading dock, and heard the dulcet tones of demolition throughout the Perkins stacks.
Rubenstein and Duke University Library staff had the opportunity to take a fascinating tour of the construction in progress in recent weeks. Here are some highlights.
First off we got to wear official vests, hard hats and protective glasses – safety first! Above our touring librarians and archivists are pictured in the old Rubenstein reading room, looking into the a section of the 1948 closed stacks previously referred to as the “cage.”
The renovation of the Gothic Reading Room has also started, and demolition crews are removing non-original features of the room. Please note that both the character of the room and its distinctive architectural elements will be retained as we modernize the building. The windows and light fixtures will be restored as close to their original look as possible, but the shelving will be replaced. We toured the entire construction site with Will Dunlop from EHG Demolition. Will commented that the Gothic Reading Room is “one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever been called upon to wreck.”
The demolition process has revealed the old exterior wall of the 1928 building. Originally, the Gothic Reading room had windows on both sides of the room. When the 1948 addition was built, one side of windows were filled and the exterior wall was covered by the expansion project. In the first picture above we see the old exterior wall, and the outline of decorative stone elements that were removed. The next image shows the remains of ivy vines that must have been growing on the exterior wall when it was covered around 1948.
The Rubenstein Library director and collection development offices, formally on the 2nd floor of Perkins outside of the Gothic Reading room, have been completely demolished. Here you see the gutted space and the bracing that has been added to protect the building’s structure during renovation.
The room formerly known as Perkins 201 was located right across from the Breedlove Room. Our Technical Services Department worked there before moving to Smith Warehouse several years ago. As you can see in the picture, the windows have been removed and boarded up. This is also where debris is being taken and pitched to dumpsters in the loading dock.
Out on the loading dock you can see where a chute (the black tube looking thing coming out of the top window) has been constructed to funnel debris from the demolition area (and Room 201) into dumpsters.
Post contributed by Molly Bragg, Collections Move Coordinator.
Maybe if it had tables full of researchers and some lovely teal carpeting?
That’s right, it’s our old reading room! As you can see it has undergone quite a change since renovation began earlier this summer. Not only is that teal carpeting gone, but steel bracing has been installed for extra structural support. Check out theRubenstein Library Renovation blog for more pictures and updates on our ongoing renovation.
Last week, we watched “Duke Stone” panels going up on the construction fence surrounding the Rubenstein Library and the West Campus Union. So we thought we’d take a few moments to write about the real Duke Stone!
Did you know that Duke Stone comes from a quarry in Hillsborough, North Carolina, just about 10 miles away from campus? Or that there are 24 distinct colors in the stone: 7 primary colors with 17 distinct variants of the primary colors? Or that, before choosing the Hillsborough stone, there were several other stone contenders?
Before the Hillsborough stone was chosen to construct West Campus, and before it was known simply as “Duke Stone,” the architects, designers, builders, and James B. Duke himself looked at many different stone samples. They even constructed test walls of stone from other quarries on the East Coast to determine which one they liked the best. Here’s one of the test walls constructed during that phase:
And in this October 15, 1925 photo of construction on East Campus, the test walls are visible off in the distance.
It’s safe to say that we all know and love Duke Stone today—so much so that the panels are going up on the construction wall so that we don’t have to be without the look of it for too long. Next time you’re on campus, see how many primary and variant colors you can find in the stone. Let us know how you do!
Visitors to the Rubenstein Library may notice things are a little noisy in the library as renovation work begins. In the next few weeks interior demolition of our former space will continue and the tower crane for the renovation project will be installed. Since we’re on the other side of the building now, it shouldn’t be too loud in our reading room, but, as always, we’ll have foam earplugs available for researchers. Further details and updates are available on the Rubenstein Library Renovation blog.
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University