A new office space is currently being developed for staff involved with preservation and technical services in the Yale University Library System.
The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s Technical Services Department and Yale University Library’s Preservation Department will move to 344 Winchester Ave. in April and July 2015, respectively. Work began in August to renovate about an acre of raw space in the building — roughly a quarter of its total size — into office space specifically designed for library staff. The project, which costs $15 million, was motivated by the physical limitations of Sterling Memorial Library and the Beinecke to provide the most convenient and efficient spaces for staff.
“344 Winchester is a physical gap [from the Central Campus libraries] that we’ll have to work to bridge, but it’s only a mile away,” Head of the Beinecke’s Technical Services Matthew Beacom said. “This is the best situation that is available to us — we’re having work space designed to specifications to meet workflows and needs.”
Beacom said the Beinecke’s Technical Services is working closely with Preservation to create the new space. Given that the office space will span one floor with shared meeting rooms and a lounge, he said the facility will foster a “tight partnership” between the departments.
He added that the rest of the University Library’s Technical Services Department will also join the two entities at Winchester later next year, though plans for their portion of the facility are still in development.
Director of Communications for the Library Amanda Patrick said the Preservation Department’s portion of the facility, which will be known as the Center for Library Preservation and Conservation, will cost $5 million. Funding for the entire project, including the space for the Beinecke’s Technical Services, stems from Beinecke endowment income, central capital funds and donations. Construction is currently on schedule, according to Director of Preservation Bobbie Pilette.
Features of the new office space will include conservation and digital studios, a mile of compact shelving, rooms for receiving and transferring materials and worktables. Climate control and security systems are also being constructed.
Pilette said the Preservation Department’s move was spurred by a lack of collective space for staff. Twenty-one staff members in the department currently occupy offices and labs dispersed throughout the basement and stacks of Sterling.
The Beinecke’s Technical Services Department faced similar issues. Beacom said the department’s approximately 50 staff members were housed in three different locations: the Beinecke, Sterling Memorial Library and 121 Whitney Ave.
Beacom said the move was also the result of the Beinecke’s upcoming renovation. The relocation of Technical Services to Winchester Avenue will allow for the creation of new spaces, such as more classrooms and consultation rooms, to cater to the needs of faculty and students. A small number of Beinecke staff will temporarily relocate to Winchester Avenue because of the library’s renovation, Beacom added. The space is designed to accommodate approximately a 10 percent increase in Technical Services staff, he added.
The Preservation Department’s move to Winchester will also leave vacant space, Associate University Librarian for Administrative Services Michael Bell said. But plans are not set in stone for how this space will be used in the future.
Four administrators and library staff interviewed said they are enthusiastic about the new space. However, some cited the distance from the Central Campus libraries as a potential concern.
Beacom said that having Beinecke staff working in two different sites — the widely accessible building at 121 Wall St. and the more remote 344 Winchester Ave. — could create divisions between staff. To resolve this, he said there will be joint meetings for the sites, and staff members at 344 Winchester Ave. may also continue working some of the time at the Beinecke building.
“Once the moves are complete, I believe the number of library staff at 344 Winchester will be equal to, if not slightly larger, than the number of library staff in Sterling Memorial Library,” University Librarian Susan Gibbons said.
344 Winchester Ave. was previously the site of a US Repeating Arms factory.