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High Density Library


Question:  What is the High Density Library?

Answer:  The High Density Library (HDL) is a dedicated environmentally controlled storage facility that will hold books, journals, archival files, and museum objects.   Books and journals are stored compactly by size in trays on metal shelving.  This type of storage means that large numbers of material can be housed in a relatively small space compared to traditional shelving.

The HDL is located on the University’s Spy Hill Campus.

  Why are materials being moved to the HDL? 

Answer:  Many of the items in the print collection are rarely used.  By moving less used materials to the HDL the University was able to have space in the new Taylor Family Digital Library for collaborative learning, multi-media, data visualization, and the use of primary sources such as archives, special collections and museum objects.

As well, many collections that were already stored off site because of space constraints can now be incorporated into a system that allows easy identification and retrieval.  This includes many archival and special collections which were kept at the Provincial Archives in Edmonton and the University of Alberta.

: How quickly can items be retrieved from the HDL?

Answer:  Books and journals will be available the next business day after a request is placed.

  Can I go to the HDL and view materials?

Answer:  The Reading Room will be closed to the public indefinitely to accommodate a large project. Apologies for the inconvenience. Please note that material stored at the HDL may be requested online and delivered to other libraries on campus for review.

Question: Can I request books and journals from the HDL even if I don’t have a University of Calgary Library card?

Answer: Yes.  People without a card can request up to 5 items at a time using a standard request form . People who need to request more materials can do so by requesting a special arrangement. 

Question:  What materials will be housed in the Taylor Family Digital Library?

Books and Periodicals
Over 600,000 volumes will be housed in open stacks in the Taylor. This includes:
• Books added in the last 10 years
• Books added between 10 and 15 years ago that circulated since 2005
• Books added more than 15 years of ago that circulated since 2005 AND which cover Canadian history or literature, European history, music, classics, American Literature and English Literature
• Journal issues for the last 10 years of current subscriptions

Special Materials
• Video/Audio recordings and music scores will be available in the new Visual and Performing Arts Centre on the 3rd Floor of the Taylor.  Very little of this collection will be in the HDL.
• Rare books, some archives, numismatics and textiles will be kept in the Taylor in a closed environmentally controlled space.  Material will be requested and viewed in a new Reading Room in the Arts & Culture area on the 5th Floor of the Taylor.
• Canadian periodicals in microform and frequently used microform sets will be kept in the Taylor and can be used in the microforms area on the 3rd Floor of the Taylor.  Sets can also be recalled for class assignments and will be kept in the Taylor while the course is being offered.

What about browsing?

Answer:  One of the issues that most concerns people about putting books and periodicals in the High Density Library is that they will not have an opportunity to physically browse these materials on the shelf.  In response we are working to develop ways of virtually browsing.  For instance in the catalogue you can select the option to view materials nearby on the shelf. (See a brief tutorial on how to view nearby items.)  We know this is not the same experience as physical shelf browsing, but we will continue to look for ways to improve the experience for users.


  How do I ask for large runs of material and use them in the Taylor?

Answer:  If you want to call back multiple items at once to preview before borrowing or to use inhouse, for example entire journal runs, call number ranges, or large sets, you can arrange this by submitting a request to the HDL service. The material will be delivered to the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) and it may be viewed in the Alan MacDonald Reading Room on the 5th floor. Items may then be borrowed per regular borrowing privileges. To request large runs of microform material, please submit a request to the microforms department in the TFDL.

Question:  Are any materials being discarded?

Answer:  As a research library we take seriously our role in maintaining the scholarly record.  Our practice is not to discard any material from the collection with the exception of duplicate titles.  As well, we keep duplicates of items that pertain to Canadian areas of study, as these tend to be very heavily used and replacement copies are useful.

Duplicates we don’t keep are offered to local and online charitable book sales.  A senior staff person reviews duplicates for discard to make sure we aren’t inadvertently discarding items that are rare or have special importance.

  Does this mean the library isn’t buying print books anymore?

Answer:  The HDL actually allows us to continue to purchase print books and know that we will continue to have space for storing these.  While electronic book technology is evolving and do have a place in our collections, print books still seem to be the preferred format for extended reading.  We’re keeping a close eye on circulation patterns to track any changes in use or demand.

One area where we have made a shift to the digital format is journals, wherever possible we buy digital not print journals, this is based on clear reader preference and ease of access.