We hope that you’ve already had the chance to explore our new library – or that you’re making plans to visit soon! Whether you’re studying, researching, or simply satisfying your own curiosity, the University of South Carolina Law Library has the resources to help you succeed:
With the library move underway, have you wondered what the experience is like for our books? We invite you to follow our intrepid action camera and ride along as The Library (a book from our collection) travels from 701 Main Street to its new home at 1525 Senate Street. It’s the library move from a book’s perspective!
The Library: A World History is one of many wonderful books that can be found on the shelves of our new library and includes stunning full-color images of libraries, both current and historic, from all over the world.
Please join us on May 30 as we re-open at our new location at 1525 Senate Street!
The first step in moving the law library’s collection was to measure the shelf space in the new building, shelf by shelf. In theory, the blueprints showed the total amount of shelf space. However, our library movers’ motto is “trust, but verify.”
In verifying how much shelf space there was in the new basement, the movers discovered that a few bookshelves were 29 inches wide, rather than the standard 35 inches. The builders had to add extra support posts in the basement, which hadn’t been called for by the blueprints, and the shelving had to be reduced slightly to accommodate the posts. Discovering this discrepancy in advance and being able to move some columns of numbers in the move-planning process, rather than discovering it at a later time when it would slow down the physical process of moving the books, is the benefit of first verifying the measurements of the new shelf space.
Measure, plot, and tag
The next step is to measure the width of the books in the library’s collection and plot their new location shelf-by-shelf.
Most books cannot be placed in the same location where they were in the old building. The print collection was (very roughly speaking) equally spread over the four floors of the library at 701 South Main. However, at 1525 Senate, 70% of the print collection will be in the basement’s compact shelving, and the remaining 30% will be distributed among the first, second, and third floors of the new library.
The law librarians have already done the decisionmaking about which sets of materials will be in the basement (case reporters and law journals, among others), and which will remain more easily accessed on upper floors (South Carolina Code of Laws, South Carolina Bar publications, and study aids on the first floor, for example).
The law librarians have likewise noted where growth in the collection is expected, and extra room must be allowed on the shelves accordingly. For example, case reporters will not have additional volumes appearing in between existing volumes, so shelves of case reporters can be fully filled. However, a good bit of extra space must be allowed at the end of each set of case reporters, because as courts decide more cases, new volumes of the reporter will be added at the end of the series.
After measuring, the next step is to tag the books in their old location along with their intended shelves in the new location, shelf by shelf. The tags are color-coded by floor in the new building: basement, first, second and third.
Duplicate tags are used, meaning that there are two stickers with identical color and number: one red 1000 that goes on a book in the current space, and another red 1000 that goes on a shelf in the in the new building. As the movers load up the books, they make sure each shelf-load begins with a tag, which should then match up with the tag on the shelf when they unload. That way, any accidental mixup in book location should be easy to spot in an instant.
The Book Move
The library is closed as of 12 noon, Monday May 8. We reopen at 1525 Senate Street at 8 a.m., Tuesday, May 30.
The law library is moving, but not for the first time. Petigru College housed the law school, along with the law library, until 1973.
Law school enrollment grew from 173 students in 1960, to 496 in 1970. The law library held approximately 40,000 volumes in 1953, and 113,428 in 1974. By the time 701 South Main was built, it was very much needed; Petigru had been outgrown.
Today, law school enrollment is approximately 615, and the law library holds more than 500,000 volumes.
To get some perspective on the historic 1973 law library move, we spoke on the phone with Mrs. Prue Goolsby on April 20, 2017. Mrs. Goolsby was hired as the Circulation Librarian in 1973 and retired from the law library in 1993. The conversation below has been edited for length and clarity.
Mrs. Goolsby, how inadequate was the space in Petigru?
Petigru was so small—three floors, and very little shelf space, very little study space. You never knew when you would get stuck in the elevator. People didn’t like to get on that elevator, because it really did get stuck.
What was it like to move the law library in 1973?
I had just started work in August in Petigru, and I was put in charge of getting the books on the shelf in the new law library before the semester started.
Trucks were rented, and about 20 or 25 students were hired—law students and undergraduates. The student assistants packed all the books in boxes, put them on the trucks, unpacked the books, and put them on the shelf. And of course I helped. It took at least two weeks, and it really built muscles.
The main thing with moving books is to keep them in the right order. The law students understood the importance of keeping the books in the right order, and we were fortunate to have undergraduates who also were very careful.
I suppose there were no computers?
There were reporters and digests—no computers in 1973. We were lucky to have a copier! When we moved into the law library, there was only one copier in a tiny room by the circulation desk. Later on, we put four or five copiers in what is now the library conference room, so computers could go in that tiny room when we got them. As you can imagine, a whole room full of copiers would get so hot, we would have to keep both doors open.
I’m not much for computers even now; I like books. I like to hold books. But I do have a Kindle . . . and a tablet!
What kind of books do you like to read?
I like historical books, and mysteries. I recently read The Trapped Girl by Robert Dugoni, about a girl found in a crab pot. Of course, I know Robert. He and I are on Facebook together. I’ve read all of his Tracy Crosswhite series, and I’ve read all of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. It’s fiction of course, but in a way, it’s about my family. I was a Fraser, and in my family there was a James. I thoroughly enjoy reading about Scotland.
What did you like about working in the law library?
I liked all the people I worked with, and the students. All of my coworkers were great people. I particularly enjoyed working with Emily Keogh, whom I grew up with in Walterboro.
I liked when lawyers or judges I knew would stop by the library and look me up to say hello. A cousin of mine who was a lawyer often stopped in. At one time Judge Joe Anderson said he didn’t know what he’d do without me. That was nice to hear. And I remember Judge Kendall Few would ask me where things were in the library.
Do you have any advice for law students and law librarians?
To the law students: Be nice to the librarians. You never know where it may lead. You need to respect the library. Some of our students would take their pens and poke holes in the furniture or write all over things. That is not respect. You need to respect the library.
To the librarians: Be nice, but be firm. And be fair.
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.
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.
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.