From a Book’s Perspective

by guest author Aaron Glenn

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!

How to Move a Law Library, Part III

Trust, but verify

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.”

spreadsheet used by the movers

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.

compact shelving in the new library’s basement; a support pillar is visible on the right          USC Photo
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.

shelf by painstaking shelf
all the shelves

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.

end panels have been installed on the shelving on the library’s upper floors

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).

Some books that were shelved side-by-side in the old building will be shelved in separate locations in the new building, as much of the collection is moved into the basement. The movers fold green paper “parentheses” around books that will be shelved in a different location than their current neighbors.

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.

“South Carolina Superseded Code – Estimated Growth 120 inches”
Each title of the Code of Federal Regulations is updated annually, and the library stores the superseded versions of each title together. Red tags allow space between the latest version of one title and the earliest version of the next title.

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.

measurements plotted to locations; duplicate tags in the lower left

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.

duplicate tags
This tag shows that instead of being in the middle of a shelf, as it was in the old building, volume 38 will now be the first book on a shelf. Movers will place it in the new building on the shelf that has been tagged with a green 1457. The books to the right of it will of course be placed to the right of it, until the green 1458 tag is reached and the next shelf begins.
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.

Dean Robert M. Wilcox made a last-chance library run before we closed for the book move.
The movers use double-corrugated boxes, custom fit to the width of a standard shelf, and narrow enough to fit in the aisle between shelves.                                                                         Photo: Candle Wester
Some books have already arrived in the new building and are being placed on the tagged shelves.       Photo: Candle Wester
Previous posts in How to Move a Law Library:

How to Move a Law Library, Part II

The law library is moving, but not for the first time. Petigru College housed the law school, along with the law library, until 1973.

Petigru Building
exterior of Petigru College in 1953     Source: Law Library History, compiled by Pamela Rogers Melton
Petigru law library
law library in Petigru College               Source: Law Library History compiled by Pamela Rogers Melton

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.

Law Center construction
construction of 701 South Main           Source: Law Library History compiled by Pamela Rogers Melton

Today, law school enrollment is approximately 615, and the law library holds more than 500,000 volumes.

chart: enrollment and library volumes
Source: Law Library History, compiled by Pamela Rogers Melton

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.

Previous posts in How to Move a Law Library:

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.

Law Library Construction Progress, Part V

USCphoto.com contains a veritable library of law school construction photos. Here are a few additional photos, taken by the director of the law library, Duncan Alford.

entrance to the law school facing Senate Street
Senate Street entrance                                                                                                           Photo: Duncan Alford
wall of wood paneling with three monitor screens and a judge's bench
law school courtroom                                                                                                              Photo: Duncan Alford
soft red chairs near a glass wall; round ottomans and low tables on carpet
student commons (to be open to students 24/7)                                                            Photo: Duncan Alford
three benches; six chairs; glass walls and exterior doors
soft seating in the entryway of the law library                                                              Photo: Duncan Alford
two chairs near tall windows, with natural light and suspended lighting
soft seating overlooking the Coleman Karesh Reading Room                                  Photo: Duncan Alford
newly planted tree and grass, brick patio, stone benches
courtyard view, facing dining area                                                                                    Photo: Duncan Alford
newly planted palmetto tree in courtyard, lamps visible in reading room windows
courtyard view, facing Coleman Karesh Reading Room                                              Photo: Duncan Alford
3 stories of carpeted stairs, elongated rectangle staircase with a slight "spiral staircase" effect
law library stairwell                                                                                                               Photo: Duncan Alford
staircase with railing and landing; large light-filled windows to the right create shadows
staircase in the classroom wing, view from second floor to first floor                    Photo: Duncan Alford

This is our final post about construction. Starting tomorrow, our blog’s focus will shift to cover the library move.

Law Library Move

We will close at noon on May 8 to prepare for the move. 3Ls must clean out their carrels and return the keys by noon on May 8.

Reference librarians will be available via email Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., during the move, with the exception of May 18 and 19, the days of our office move.

We reopen at 1525 Senate Street on May 30, 2017.

Previous construction progress posts:

Law Library Construction Progress, Part IV

Students at Albright College in Reading, PA form a human chain to move books from their library’s former location to a building constructed in 1964.

Instead of a human chain, the law library will use professional movers who specialize in moving libraries to get all of our books and other materials from 701 South Main Street to 1525 Senate Street.

Here are our latest glimpses of the new space:

main entrance to the law school at 1525 Senate Street                                                  Photo: Duncan Alford
main lobby of the law school, looking down the classroom wing toward Gervais Street                   Photo: Duncan Alford
courtroom view from the lobby entrance                                                                           Photo: Duncan Alford
courtroom view toward the bench                                                                                        Photo: Duncan Alford
student lockers                                                                                                                            Photo: Duncan Alford
view of cafe and dining area                                                                                                  Photo: Duncan Alford
view of dining area, toward courtyard                                                                                Photo: Duncan Alford
view of the student commons facing the courtyard                                              Photo: Pamela Melton
law library circulation desk, near law library entrance, facing Gervais Street      Photo: Pamela Melton
law library reference desk, view facing Bull Street                                       Photo: Pamela Melton

We will be closed May 6 – May 29 due to the move.

We reopen at 1525 Senate Street on May 30, 2017.

Previous construction progress posts:

Law Library Construction Progress, Part III

More photos of construction progress are below. The book move starts May 8. It’s almost time!

entrance to the student commons, facing south (toward Senate St.)                        Photo: Tobias Brasier
circulation desk at library entrance; Gervais St. law school entrance is visible      Photo: Tobias Brasier
moving blankets have not yet been removed from the reference desk                     Photo: Tobias Brasier
shelving on the law library’s first floor, facing Gervais Street                                    Photo: Duncan Alford
view of Coleman Karesh Reading Room facing south (toward Senate St.)              Photo: Tobias Brasier
Coleman Karesh Reading Room, standing on the 2nd floor facing west (3rd floor shelving visible through upper windows)                                                                                                         Photo: Tobias Brasier
bookshelves on the 3rd floor (view facing windows along Bull St.)                           Photo: Tobias Brasier

For good measure, a couple of law school building photos from outside the law library are below.

a law school classroom, facing Pickens Street                                                                   Photo: Duncan Alford
law school courtroom, facing Pickens Street                                                                      Photo: Duncan Alford
Previous construction progress posts:

Law Library Construction Progress, Part II

The law library’s big move in May 2017 draws ever nearer. The new law school building on Gervais Street is almost ready.

circulation desk at library entrance (view facing toward Gervais Street)
view of the student commons (to be open to students 24/7), facing toward Bull Street
the law library’s two-story reading room, facing west (Bull Street)
reading room facing north (Gervais Street)
reading room facing east (courtyard)

All photos are courtesy of Duncan Alford.

Law Library Construction Progress

The law library is planning to move in May 2017 to its new location at the corner of Gervais and Bull in Columbia.

Here are some glimpses of the progress so far on building the new library:

compact-shelving-north
view of compact shelving being installed on the north side (Gervais Street)
compact-shelving-east
view of compact shelving being installed on the east side (Pickens Street)
courtyard-looking-from-the-reading-room-balcony
view from the law library’s reading room balcony, looking onto the courtyard
library-commons-looking-out-towards-bull-st
view from inside the student commons, to be open to law students 24/7, looking toward Bull Street
library-reading-room-under-construction
the law library’s two-story reading room under construction

All photos courtesy of Duncan Alford.