In an effort to alleviate a critical lack of shelf space, Tozzer Library recently aquired twelve high-tech shelves which hold twice as many books as conventional stacks.
Each set of six bookshelves has one "floating" aisle, which is opened automatically by pressing a button. Because the stacks can be squeezed into half the space of normal shelving, the anthropology library has been able to store about 24,000 volumes in an area that previously held 12,000.
The installation of "Spacesaver" stacks, shared between Tozzer and Yenching Libraries, was prompted by a critical need for additional shelving. The problem has been intensified by President Bok's refusal to authorize new library construction, according to Yenching Library employee Pamela M. Hays. "The crisis has come and they're going to have to do something about it," she said, adding, "They can't ignore us anymore."
Yenching Library, built in 1958 to house the University's East-Asian collection, has long since run out of space. "It was designed to last twenty years," said Timothy E. Connor, Head of Public Services in Yenching Library. "We're almost at thirty."
"Last year the books were stacked on the floor," said Hays, who did not know how much additional shelving is needed.
Although there are plans to eventually equip the entire lower floor of Tozzer with the automatic stacks, Librarian G. Edward Evans says he doubts it will ever happen. Yenching has also requested "Spacesaver" shelves, but, according to Connor, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has not granted the $250,000 that would be necessary.
The University has, however, created the position of Associate Dean for Planning and Space in part to look for a solution, said Hays. Until a study by the new Assistant Dean is completed in nine months, nothing can be done to relieve the problem, she said.
Pusey Library is the only other Harvard library that has installed "Spacesaver" shelving.
Evans indicated that the sliding stacks, acquired in July, have relieved Tozzer's immediate need for additional shelving. "We've gained about five years of storage space," the librarian said.
Fears that the automatic stacks might crush someone have been assuaged by almost two years of uneventful service in Pusey. Although those shelves have destroyed several stools which were left in a closing aisle, no one has been hurt. The Tozzer stacks are equipped with sensitive pressure plates which cut power to the stacks when someone is standing in the aisle.