How to Move a Law Library, Part I

Moving a library is no small feat, especially when you’re the largest law library in South Carolina, with more than 500,000 volumes and volume equivalents such as DVDs and microforms. Each of these must always be tracked carefully because it was bought with state funds, and because it could at any time be the one particular item that a student, faculty member, or member of the public needs for their research.

That’s why what someone might do with a personal book collection when they move—box everything up, put the boxes in the garage, get around to opening them someday, then make decisions about bookshelf placement—is out of the question.

It's not hoarding if it's books

In fact, just hiring commercial movers is unlikely to be sufficient. Most movers operate room-by-room, and this works for an office move.

For example, each law librarian is in the process of boxing up their own office materials. These will be moved room-by-room into assigned offices on the third floor of the new law library, where the law librarians will then each unpack their own office materials.

empty office in new law school building
office in photo has the same general layout as a law librarian office, but is facing the courtyard instead of Bull Street or Gervais Street                                                                            Photo: USC Photo

But just imagine if each floor of the current law library were treated as a “room,” and the movers placed boxes of volumes from that floor just anywhere in a “room” or floor of the new space for law librarians to unpack and shelve.

This would lead to an unacceptably long lag time of library closure as boxes are unpacked, books are discovered that should be on one shelf or another, books shelved early on need to be shifted one shelf over or two shelves up to make room for other books based on call-number order, still-packed boxes get in the way, and so on. Because this would be unworkable, professional movers who specialize in library moves have been hired.

Before we blog about their library-moving method that actually works, we’ll take a look back in time at the law library’s 1974 move from Petigru College into the current law library at 701 South Main, and we’ll get a sense of what our new compact shelving can do. Stay tuned for future blog posts in our How to Move a Law Library series.