Gettysburg College, located adjacent to the historic Gettysburg Battlefield, is steeped in history. The college’s Musselman Library is entrusted with promoting in-depth understanding of that history, which means preserving and providing access to a variety of primary source materials, including thousands of rare books, manuscripts, maps, and other items. Staff are responsible for storing these delicate materials in a way that maintains their integrity while still allowing scholars to retrieve them for research.

But the library also serves the day-to-day needs of the College’s undergraduate students, who want access to books and other materials but who also want space for collaboration and quiet study.

In order to meet modern demands while preserving historic documents, the dean of the library, Robin Wagner, turned to Charlie Middleton at the Storage Team. As a project manager and a certified Spacesaver sales consultant, Middleton has been a trusted partner to the library for more than fifteen years. During that time he has consulted with Wagner and her staff on storage projects, coordinated with Spacesaver engineers to create custom solutions, and supervised installations.

“About 15 years ago we created a mechanical assist mobile system with four modules on the ground level,” Middleton said. “Four years ago we moved two of these modules to a nearby off-site archival storage facility, and we were able to install them into an existing system. That allowed them to condense their shelving at the Musselman Library and repurpose library space for a collaborative study area.”

About three years ago Middleton helped staff design and install the first ActivRAC 7 cantilever installation in the US. The ActivRAC system allowed the library to store seldom-accessed periodicals and archival boxes in off-site storage, freeing up room in the main library for new study spaces.

For the library’s latest storage projects, staff wanted to consolidate storage to free up space for study and research in its Special Collections area, while still maintaining stable temperature, humidity, and airflow to preserve the materials stored there.
Middleton suggested custom-built perforated shelving that would allow air to not only flow from side to side down the aisles, but also up and down through the shelves. “We had a lot of experience with perforated shelving,” Middleton said.

“We’ve done projects at the State Capitol and at the State Archives / Rare Books, so we knew it would be a good solution for them.”

This past summer Middleton installed 48 dual-faced carriages with five platforms on the third floor. This provided additional space for the fourth floor Special Collections department while allowing staff to repurpose space to create new areas for study and research.

Library staff were thrilled to protect the library’s precious collection, provide for safe and convenient retrieval, and free up space for other uses — all while avoiding the expense and the undesirable appearance of an addition. “The bottom line is that they didn’t have to expand the library,” Middleton said. “They didn’t want to. It’s beautiful; it has that wow factor.”

The process didn’t happen overnight, but everyone involved is pleased with the progress of the library’s various Spacesaver projects. “We’re doing it in sections according to their budget,” Middleton said. “It’s a work in progress, but it’s going great.”

The staff agrees.

“A smart shelving solution is the best solution to caring for this plethora of material that we’re always going to need to save,” said Carolyn Sautter, Director of Special Collections and College Archives. “Even if we digitize it, we need those originals still in our care, and these shelving solutions help us do that.”

Library staff needed to protect the library’s historic collection, provide for safe and convenient retrieval, and repurpose space for other uses — all while avoiding the expense and undesirable appearance of an addition.



Learn how a city library used mobile shelving (shelves that move), off-site archival storage, and other solutions to repurpose library space for collaborative workspaces and other uses.
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Learn how you can create space for modern uses — like collaborative workspaces, cafes, and computer labs — within your library’s existing footprint.
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