Introducing the New UGA Map and Government Information Library

Introducing the New UGA Map and Government Information Library

Hallie Pritchett, Map and Federal Regional Depository Librarian, University of Georgia Libraries | hpritche@uga.edu

Pritchett 2012 Abstract

After seven years in an off-campus warehouse, the University of Georgia (UGA) Libraries’ extensive map collection is finally back on campus as part of our new Map and Government Information Library (MAGIL). The extent of our collection, as well as our adventures off campus, was previously documented in issue 63 of Cartographic Perspectives. At that time, moving back to campus was discussed in the most abstract of terms; some days, I thought it would never happen. But finally, after many years of planning and preparation, on July 19th, 2012, MAGIL opened for business in the subbasement of UGA’s Main Library.

Figure 1. Map case drawers marked with China markers.

Figure 1. Map case drawers marked with China markers.

Preparations for our move back to campus started within days of my arrival at UGA in early 2007. Although no one could say exactly when it would happen, everyone repeatedly assured me that one day we would move; with this in mind, my new staff and I got busy. My goals were to not move anything that we did not plan to keep and to make sure that the items we did keep were as well-organized as possible; with very few exceptions, both goals were met. Over the next five years, the Map Library staff sorted, processed and discarded more than 40,000 duplicate maps; close to 15,000 of those found new homes in map collections throughout the country. New procedures were put in place for processing maps received through the Federal Depository Library Program (UGA is a regional depository for federal documents), allowing us to finally eliminate a processing backlog that had existed for more than a decade. Gift atlases were sorted and boxed, to be cataloged in our new space. We sorted our extensive collection of Georgia air photos, formerly housed in thirty-five four-drawer file cabinets, into nearly 1200 archival boxes to better preserve and access the collection. Even without a definite date, the Map Library was ready to move.

Figure 2. Map case on a wooden frame, ready to move.

Figure 2. Map case on a wooden frame, ready to move.

When ground was broken for UGA’s new Special Collections Building in early 2010 (http://www.libs.uga.edu/scl/facilities/building.html), planning for what would eventually become MAGIL began in earnest. The space MAGIL now occupies formerly housed the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies (http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell/). Approximately two-thirds of their 14,000 square foot space was closed to the public and devoted to compact shelving and staff work areas. After much debate, it was decided that half of the existing compact shelving would be removed to make way for our public area and future GIS lab; the rest of the compact shelving would be retrofitted to accommodate map cases. What was originally the public exhibit area would house the government documents stacks and microfiche cabinets; the Russell Auditorium and adjoining offices would become MAGIL’s staff area. The exterior entrance to the Russell Library would be converted to a large window to allow for natural light in the subbasement; the main entrance to MAGIL would be adjacent to the elevators and stairs. Most importantly, since the color scheme in the non-public areas featured a particularly hideous shade of mustard yellow from the 1970s that could not be written off as retro, there would be new paint and carpet throughout. It all looked great on paper; my staff and I could hardly wait for the move to get started.

Figure 3. Shrink-wrapped atlases on a pallet.

Figure 3. Shrink-wrapped atlases on a pallet.

Figure 4. Uncataloged maps being sorted in our old space. Tables were set up
where the map cases used to be.

Figure 4. Uncataloged maps being sorted in our old space. Tables were set up where the map cases used to be.

As it turned out, we wound up waiting a bit longer than expected. The move of the soon-to-be former Map Library ultimately depended on the move schedule of the Special Collections Libraries, which in turn depended on the completion of their new building. Unfortunately, our original plan to close the Map Library in early December 2011 was overly optimistic. Due to a number of factors, not the least of which was the enormous scope of the Special Collections move, the Map Library did not close for good until April 19th, 2012; we remained closed for the next 3 months. Even as I finally started posting signs announcing our impending closing, I found it hard to believe that after five years of anticipation, the move was finally about to happen.

The move itself was completed in several stages. The first stage involved moving the air photos onto newly-installed compact shelving, and installing the map cases on the Russell Library’s former compact shelving carriages (Figure 5); this was done before our new space was remodeled to ensure that the new carpet would not be damaged. The Russell Library space we were about to occupy had been used as a staging area for the Special Collections moves, with their exterior door (our future window) turned into a temporary loading dock. This was to our advantage, as our soon-to-be-former space also had a loading dock, which allowed the map cases to be transported flat rather than tipped on their sides. However, like many large map collections, we have several different styles of map cases. As much as possible, I wanted to group like cases together; this was easier said than done. In addition to 245 five-drawer map cases in many different shades of gray, plus eight in olive drab, there were five types of handles in combinations of round, square, matte and/or shiny to match. We created extensive spreadsheets listing every single drawer, with columns for drawer content, color and handle type. To make everything match, we marked every single map case section and drawer with erasable China marker so the movers would know what cases went where (Figure 1). Although this made staging the map cases somewhat complicated for the movers—the Walter Hopkins Company, who had also installed the original compact shelving in the Russell Library—it meant that we had to do very little shifting and rearranging of the map collection once it arrived in our new space (Figure 2).

Figure 5. Compact shelving carriages ready for map cases. Note the “retro”
mustard yellow pillars that were last painted in the 1970s—fortunately, they have
since been painted an off-white.

Figure 5. Compact shelving carriages ready for map cases. Note the “retro” mustard yellow pillars that were last painted in the 1970s—fortunately, they have since been painted an off-white.

Once the map cases were moved, the remainder of their installation on the movable carriages was completed, including the addition of atlas shelving to the tops of the map cases. Remodeling of our new space continued, including moving walls for our new GIS lab, installing standing shelving and furniture, as well as new paint and carpet throughout. Back at our old location, my staff and I consolidated and organized the map cataloguing backlog of an estimated 15,000 maps that used to be randomly scattered in drawers throughout the collection (Figure 4). After a month, it was time to move again. This time, the Libraries’ in-house move team plus the UGA Physical Plant moved our books, atlases (Figure 3), uncatalogued maps, small map cases and the remainder of our furniture; our Systems staff moved our computers, printers and scanners. The next few weeks were dedicated to unpacking, shelving and settling into our new space, and to moving parts of the government documents collection into the subbasement. Finally, almost three months after we had closed, the arrival of our globes marked the last stage of our move; it was time to open our new library.

Figure 6. Public area of the Map and Government Information
Library under construction.

Figure 6. Public area of the Map and Government Information Library under construction.

Figure 7. Public area of the Map and Government Information Library with paint,
carpet, furniture and globes.

Figure 7. Public area of the Map and Government Information Library with paint, carpet, furniture and globes.

By all accounts, the new Map and Government Information Library is a great success. Libraries’ faculty and staff love the layout and color scheme, which was largely dictated by the gray map cases and light blue carriages. Students are fascinated by the compact shelving and especially by the moving map cases. Everyone is thrilled to have the map collection back on campus. As of this writing, MAGIL is still a work in progress; there is some final construction work to be completed, the move of the government documents collection will continue through the end of the calendar year, and our GIS lab is still on the drawing board. But those are relatively minor details; far more important is that UGA has a new library dedicated to maps and government documents, two rich but long-underutilized collections. After so many years of planning and preparation, I am thrilled that MAGIL has finally come to fruition and am looking forward to the bright future of our new library.

Figure 8. Reference desk with the GIS lab in the background. Note the hanging
wires—still a work in progress.

Figure 8. Reference desk with the GIS lab in the background. Note the hanging wires—still a work in progress.

Figure 9. New compact shelving for our Georgia air photo collection. Note the
bare wood floor—still a work in progress.

Figure 9. New compact shelving for our Georgia air photo collection. Note the bare wood floor—still a work in progress.

Figure 10. Map cases in the Map and Government Information Library. The table
top on the low cases was built for MAGIL. Note the atlas shelves on top of the map
cases in the background.

Figure 10. Map cases in the Map and Government Information Library. The table top on the low cases was built for MAGIL. Note the atlas shelves on top of the map cases in the background.

For further information about the UGA Libraries’ new Map and Government Information Library, please visit our new Web site (which is also a work in progress, but hopefully not for long!) at http://www.libs.uga.edu/magil.

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.