Repurposing Library Storage
Today’s libraries are evolving. They’re shifting from a place to simply check out a book or study to being a pillar of their communities. That means offering the full gamut of resources—computer labs, meeting rooms, collaboration centers, cafes, and more. With this evolution comes an inevitable question—where is the space to do all of this?
That was the situation for the St. Louis Central Library in St. Louis, Missouri. The 101-year-old building was undergoing a major renovation with an overarching goal—to keep the integrity of their historic space while incorporating modern architecture and storage systems. Take a look at how we helped them achieve that below.
Learn more about our storage solutions for libraries:
Static Shelving—With a Twist
Cantilever shelving is the most commonly used shelving for libraries, due to its ability to be easily reconfigured on-site. It’s also infinitely customizable. Here are a few ways cantilever assisted with specific design features:
Retrofitting Wooden Bookcases
The library was especially fond of the original wooden bookcases, but knew that many of the old bookcases were damaged and weren’t optimal for efficient storage. We worked with them to install cantilever shelving into the frames of the bookcases, creating additional book storage while still retaining a significant piece of the library’s history.
Static cantilever shelving is infinitely customizable, which was why it was used in the off-site storage facility as well as in many of the public access areas of the library. In the Fine Art, Science and Technology, and Rare Books rooms, LED lighting was incorporated, with the fixtures designed to look like part of the shelving. The lighting eliminated the need of adding additional lighting that might detract from the historic chandeliers and ornate ceilings, and was extremely energy efficient compared to traditional fluorescent bulbs.
There are infinite ways to bring personality to shelving with end-panels, and the St. Louis Central Library is proof. In the Fine Art room, the LED lighting on the cantilever shelves combined with custom glass end-panels, making the stacks look like works of art themselves—and red acrylic end-panels showcase space on the main level of the library called The Center for the Reader.
In the children’s area, cantilever shelving was outfitted with a custom base, wrapped in solid surface and then placed on heavy-duty casters (wheels) so that the area is completely reconfigurable on the fly by the library staff.
Compact Mobile Storage Conserves Space, Provides Access to Materials
When the St. Louis Public Library opened in 1912, a structural shelving system for “the stacks”—considered a major engineering feat of its time, was seven floors high, stretching up from the basement level. Eventually, this structure of steel, metal, and glass started to create safety and spatial limitations for the library—and for that reason, planners chose to replace the outdated and hazardous system.
Working with the library’s architecture firm and planning team, we assisted in replacing the stacks with three mezzanine levels of high-density mobile shelving. The system reduced the number of aisles between shelves—and now, bookcases simply roll together and aisles open and close as needed. Because of the compact mobile shelving systems, seven floors of books could now be stored in three—and new functional spaces within the library, including a café, meeting rooms, study areas, technology rooms, and an atrium—were able to be created in the building’s existing footprint.
Off-Site Storage Solutions
The St. Louis Central Library project was preceded by a substantial storage project that had been completed for the library’s off-site facility, which was mainly used for the storage of low-use material and research.
While this particular facility utilized standard high-density mobile storage, there are situations where square footage is nonexistent—and in those cases, we look up with our storage, literally. Mobile and static high-bay shelving makes use of vertical space while eliminating empty aisles.
Additional Library Applications
Library Shelving and Storage
Our team uses decades of library storage experience to combine traditional storage methods with modern Spacesaver units, to repurpose your library’s existing space for collaborative study lounges, computer learning centers, cafés, retail stores, children’s spaces and more!
Children’s Library Spaces
Our storage experts use alternative and innovative storage solutions to create areas with the materials and space necessary for children to learn, explore, and move around. By combining high-density storage with traditional storage units we can create an ideal system for your needs.
Public Access Mobile Storage
With years of library storage experience, our team is able to effortlessly combine your desires for organization and increased space to create a one-of-a-kind system design. Our mobile storage units will maximize your library’s space without compromising your patrons’ safety.
Spacesaver High-bay storage systems can maximize the amount of storage available in the smallest footprint possible. Our storage experts utilize the vertical height in your storage area to create a system that allows you to store more goods and materials in less space.
Spacesaver cantilever library shelving is designed to adapt to both stationary and mobile storage applications. The shelving system offers a wide array of options and storage accessories so it can conveniently reconfigure, relocate, or expand as your needs change. For more versatile cantilever shelving, look to A-frame shelves.
A more traditional style of shelving, 4-Post Static Shelving units can be equipped with lockable doors, storage and file drawers, pull-out reference drawers, and more, so it can change as your library does. Efficiently store library books, music albums, scientific samples, photographs, and more.
The St. Louis Central Library is just one of the many libraries we’ve transformed into a modern, versatile space. Find out how we used high-density storage to transform the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library: