COLLEGE STATION — Construction of a facility to preserve library resources of Texas A&M University and The University of Texas System is set to begin in June near Bryan, Texas, following formal approval of a $6.3 million appropriation for the project. The facility is designed to house about 1 million books and make them available to scholars and other interested parties upon request.
The 18,000-square-foot library facility will be constructed at Texas A&M’s Riverside Campus, the former Bryan Air Force Base that the university uses for a variety of research and training endeavors.
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents authorized the construction expenditure at its meeting Friday upon the recommendation of Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin. The regents had previously approved a $700,000 allocation for planning and other expenses related to the project.
Officials explained the new facility, scheduled to be completed by March of 2013, will help alleviate pressures for space as the libraries continue to add volumes and related resources.
“This is an excellent example of cooperation between Texas A&M and the University of Texas for the benefit of our students and faculties and, potentially other scholars and researchers,” Loftin stated, “and it’s ultimately of cost-saving benefit to the taxpayers of Texas.”
“Many of the books are kept for research purposes and are infrequently used,” officials noted in the funding proposal submitted to the regents. “Adding stack space on campus is very expensive and not necessarily a wise use of university land or monies. The idea of creating a joint use library storage facility is a viable solution.”
Following the completion of a jointly funded, high-density library storage facility at The University of Texas at Austin’s J. J. Pickle Research Campus, the two institutions announced plans in 2010 for construction of the facility at Texas A&M’s Riverside Campus to house low-circulation books and older journal volumes that can be recalled when needed. Many of the hard-copy volumes are being held with the expectation of future conversion to digital files. Volumes stored at the Pickle Research Campus require more rigid environmental control than will be necessary for those to be preserved at the Riverside Campus, officials note.
Texas A&M and the UT System have agreed to share the expense of constructing the new facility, officials note, adding that Texas A&M University Libraries will provide staffing.
“In an era of unprecedented budget cuts to higher education, we must pool our resources and work together for the good of Texans, especially those with students attending our universities. This joint library storage facility allows us to do that. We are grateful to The University of Texas System for its foresight in supporting this initiative and unique collaboration,” Loftin said at the time of the initial announcement.
To further streamline collections, a novel process is being implemented through which the institutions can "share" a single copy of duplicated holdings in storage, librarians noted. This allows for the elimination of redundancy in individual collections while preserving a collective copy that can be recalled for use in research and study among users at multiple institutions.
The efforts to jointly implement new approaches to preservation aren't limited to physical resources. For example, a partnership between Texas A&M and The University of Texas at Austin resulted in the establishment of the Texas Digital Library, an online repository for electronic theses and dissertations. That collaboration now includes more than a dozen regional members, among them several schools from the University of Texas and Texas A&M Systems.