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Libraries Strategic Space Plan Update

February 26, 2021

The Libraries values sustainability -- We are committed to being outstanding stewards of our human, environmental, physical, digital and financial resources. We engage in holistic decision-making, balancing current needs, resource allocation and long-term aspirations. The Libraries Strategic Space Plan establishes a long-term vision and framework for future changes to the physical development of the University of Washington Libraries on the Seattle Campus.

The plan recommends additional offsite shelving to enable the following benefits:

  • Ensure responsible long-term stewardship of the Libraries’ distinctive and valuable collections
  • Build on the University of Washington Libraries’ success in creating innovative spaces and services for UW students, faculty and the broader community
  • Increase core campus student study spaces to meet increase in demand and projected population growth.

Key drivers:

  • Growing student demands for new and evolving kinds of library space
  • Limited availability of highly-valued central campus space to meet demand
  • Continued collections growth housed in environmentally sound conditions
  • Space for collections approaching or exceeding capacity in most Libraries spaces
  • The changing nature of research and scholarship, such as digital scholarship and data-intensive research
  • The Libraries’ role in supporting the UW Innovation Ecosystem.

At the Seattle campus, a majority of the Libraries facilities for collections do not meet environmental standards for long-term preservation. Moreover, all of the existing shelving capacity for Libraries collections on-campus and off-campus are approaching or have reached their operational capacity and many are more than 100% full. As a result, the Libraries currently does not have shelving capacity for 17,500 items and with new acquisitions is projecting 35,000 un-shelvable items in the Suzzallo and Allen Libraries.

The Libraries met with the Faculty Council on University Libraries (FCUL) on February 10, 2021 to report on the state of the stacks at the Seattle Campus and the Suzzallo and Allen Libraries. We are making plans to address environmental conditions and shelving capacity, and will continue to review the process, timing, and next steps with the FCUL. Future discussion topics include: new off-site shelving facilities, de-duplication and de-selection of materials, leveraging collaborations with consortiums and evolving print repositories, and location strategy for physical collections.

If you have specific questions about this process, we encourage you to reach out to FCUL voting faculty, your Libraries Subject Librarian, or me.

Denise Pan
Associate Dean of University Libraries for Collections and Content