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In the Archives: On the MOVE again!

September 12, 2019

By: Lisa Lobdell, GASF Archivist


Everyone has moved at least once in their life, right? We all know how it works. You find a new place to live, pack your possessions, borrow a friend’s truck, and move your things into your new home. The Songbook Library and Archives has done that twice in the last nine years: first, from two small storage units into the Palladium and then from the Palladium to an offsite storage facility. They were straightforward moves, if not easy moves.


Have you ever decided to stay where you are while selling all of your furniture to buy new? Few of us have experienced that, I am sure. Well, the Library and Archives is preparing for that event now. In July, the Board of Directors of the Great American Songbook Foundation voted to purchase mobile shelving for our offsite facility, commonly referred to as “the warehouse”. This type of shelving comes in a variety of depths and holds more weight than our current shelving. This allows us to house 16” transcription discs and film reels in one area, LPs in another, and archival boxes in yet another. Mobile shelving has been on my wish list for several years, so I was thrilled that the board understood this need, as well. Then reality set in.

 Image by New York City Moving


This would be an easy task if the warehouse were empty. Unfortunately, the warehouse is full! Three thousand square feet of books, boxes, and LPs must be packed and rearranged. The current shelving must go. One large collection must be stored offsite. And the entire project needs to be completed in time to allow us to receive 150,000 arrangements from Oakland, CA in November. So how are we accomplishing this task?


First, I knew I had to find new homes for our existing shelving. I placed notices on state library and archives listservs, which resulted in a number of responses. Ultimately, the shelving we use to store boxes will go to the Archives and Special Collections departments at Ball State University and Newfields. The Perry County Public Library wanted the book shelving.


The installers complete sections in stages so we do not need to move everything out of the warehouse. This month my volunteers and I are packing the books and stacking them in the A/V room where we house compact discs and DVDs. We will box the 6500+ LPs and store them in place until the installers move to that section.  Boxes of sheet music and Playbills, 200 linear feet, will be stacked in the LP aisles, so that Ball State, Newfields, and Perry County Public Library can retrieve most of the donated shelving.


The packing process has already begun with thirty boxes of BOOKS ready to go!


The installation begins in late October and takes about two weeks to complete. We may begin unpacking and shelving books as soon as the new book shelving is installed. The boxed LPs will then move to the A/V room until their section is complete. Archival boxes will be reshelved. When the installation is complete, the installers will leave. But our work isn’t done. All that lovely new shelving requires us to update and create new shelving locations in our collection management system, AtoM. Then, we will update the location of every box in AtoM. Newfields will pick up any remaining shelving. The arrangements will arrive from Oakland. The collection that we stored offsite will be returned, unpacked, and shelved. Finally, we will begin moving the contents from our small archives space inside the Songbook Foundation offices at the Palladium to the warehouse.


It all looks great on paper. Now what could go wrong? Look for an update later this year.