Week 5 feels like it’s been a big one. The stacks are filling up with manuscript boxes and books and feel less cavernous and more cozy. By the numbers it’s been a big week too. On Tuesday we hit an important milestone: 10,000 manuscript boxes landed in their new homes in the stacks. It’s been a good week for our books too. We’ve moved, Library of Congress-ified, and shelved nearly all 4,000 of our folios and all 20,000 duodecimos; octavos and quartos are next on our list. Some new formats started moving this week as well: 100 drawers worth of oversize flat files moved and about half or our papyrus collection made the journey too.
We also want to invite everyone to our open house on September 10th! You’ll have a chance to tour the new spaces and exhibits, meet and mingle with library staff, and learnhow the Rubenstein Library can support your research. Check out the details here.
Today marks the end of week 4 of the move, which included us passing the move’s halfway point!
The Rubenstein staff and the team of movers we’ve contracted have been sorting print materials into LC order as they move to their new, permanent homes. From the tiniest 12vos to behemoth folios, thousands of books are now on the new shelves.
One of the highlights of the move is getting to see such a large swath of our collections at once. From books that carry history in their margins to those with covers that are just plain pretty, it’s stunning to see the range and depth of our print collection passed in front of us day in and day out.
Here are some highlights from team #movenstein this week:
Manuscripts from all of our collecting areas are making their way onto the shelves, too. The Aleph Dream Team has been busy sorting boxes and flipping call numbers as the boxes move.
The stacks aren’t the only place that saw some updates this week. The Gothic Reading Room is now outfitted with its tables and chairs. We can’t wait for August 24th when this place is full of researchers enjoying the new space.
One of my most vivid memories of the Rubenstein Library is one of my first. Shortly after starting to work as a student assistant in the fall of 2011, I entered the dark, dusty labyrinth of the library’s old stacks and grabbed an item to reshelve. With great trepidation, I drew back both metal gates on the 1926 elevator, pushed the button for the fifth floor, and hoped that the creaky old machine would actually make it to our destination. Once I got out of the elevator and my pulse had returned to normal, I found the item’s home on the bottom of a row of shelves, set it back in its proper place, stood up, and found myself eye-to-label with the Stonewall Jackson Papers.
As a lifelong history nerd, I had known that I would enjoy working in the Rubenstein, but it was not until that moment that I realized exactly how cool the Rubenstein was, and what a great resource it is for the Duke community. That point was driven home even further when, as an undergraduate majoring in History and German, I used the Rubenstein frequently as a researcher. Knowing how important the Rubenstein is to researchers in a wide variety of fields made it all the more exciting to sign on as a Senior Move Assistant during the transition from our old space to the new.
In the two weeks since I started working full-time, I have been busy measuring volumes to help figure out where items are going to be stored in our new space, and “linking” bound-withs to help ensure that items which are physically bound together actually show up that way in the catalog. The move process is not simply moving items from point A to point B, and back to a refurbished point A. It is also an opportunity to improve and simplify many aspects of the library, and it is very exciting to be part of that process. Having worked and done research in both the old space and the temporary space, I can say that I am thrilled for the opening of the new Rubenstein Library. The move process is making a great campus resource even better, and I can’t wait to see the final result of the next few months of work!
Post contributed by Michael Kaelin (T ’15), Senior Move Assistant at the Rubenstein Library. Michael worked as a Student Assistant for four years. Originally from Wilton, CT, his interests include history and literature.
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.
Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University