The Benedictine University Library Bringing a Library Back to Life

Storage Stories

Part 1: The Story

Light from a single candle flickered as a monk, squinting his eyes in the dim light, searched through the hand-written books and scrolls. The monks were expecting a group of visiting bishops who had been travelling a great distance for one reason: to see with their own eyes, the finest library in all of seventh century Scotland.

Centuries ago, St. Benedict and the Benedictine Order emphasized knowledge, hospitality and a tradition that valued the written word. Since the founding of Benedictine University, the library has been pivotal to the school’s progress. But more recently, the Benedictine University Library needed to be renovated to meet the changing needs of the students.

Part 2: The Solution

The Benedictine University Library had books spread out across four floors. To make better use of the space, it was determined that all the books should be moved to the lower levels so that the two upper floors could be converted to computer access, research, and study areas for the students. There was already high-density mobile shelving provided by a competitor on the upper floors, but their electrical system had become unreliable long ago. And the school wanted to replace it with mechanical assist.

Top: The Mobile Shelving System allowed Kindlon Hall to store more books in a smaller space.

Benedictine University called on Aurora Storage to help them make better use of the space in the Benedictine University Library. Aurora and Benedictine determined that moving the usable parts of their ten existing mobile shelving systems and combining them into one big system in the lower levels was the first course of action.

Aurora was able to reuse the existing 4-post shelving system, replace the outdated electrical system with new mechanical assist, remove and replace storage unit tracks, replace the carriages and add new shelving. Aurora was even able to match the color of their new materials with the existing, sun-faded system so that the final look was seamless.

In addition, the library’s Rare Book Archive was moved to a special, temperature-controlled room in the basement level of the library with Blue Storm 4-post shelving to help keep these books preserved for generations to come.

NOW, it’s easy to find things. It’s really freed up the space for study. The third floor and lower level are now nice quiet places for the students to study. Aurora Storage has been very supportive through several projects, and has given us everything we need.

Jack Fritts, Library Director

Aurora was able to complete this complex, multi-faceted project within a summer. Today, the lower level houses the library’s circulating collection of books and other resources for students, special collections, a quiet zone, private study areas, four new class rooms and a computer lab. While the upper levels are now individual and group study spaces, research support, and computer access areas. Even centuries later, knowledge, reflection and quiet study are still valued—no matter what form they take. ▲