Why Did We Close Special Collections?


The actual collections within the Washington and Lee University Library’s Special Collections department — rare books, documents, mixed media, and other materials — have grown substantially over the past five years and that trend shows no sign of slowing.   We need to take some steps to make better, more intelligent use of space, both for current use and for the future.

Thus, as part of one of the biggest capital projects in the history of Special Collections, this summer we are installing multiple sections of compact shelving in the vault, where the majority of our most valued materials are securely housed.   This will be the second addition of compact shelving to this area, the first occurring in August 2007.   These installations enable us to dramatically expand shelf-space, without the need to encroach upon further floor-space.   We also will take this opportunity to make electrical and lighting upgrades in the vault, as well as replacing existing doors into the Boatwright Reading Room and into the vault.

To make way for all this work, we need to move a lot of books and documents into temporary storage, an action which necessitates closing Special Collections, including the Boatwright Reading Room,  for up to two weeks.  Our plan calls for the area to be closed to the public from Monday 18 July through Friday 29 July.

These improvements have been long in coming, and are the result of a lengthy period of planning and discussion.   We are confident their implementation will enhance Special Collections services to researchers from W&L and elsewhere for years to come.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please contact Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and Archives.

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