The Penn Libraries’ physical collections exceed 8 million volumes held in more than a dozen locations. Through Summer 2023, the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center stacks are undergoing a multi-phase refresh and reorganization to help us better position our print collections to meet the evolving needs of the Penn community.
This ongoing project will allow us to take a proactive approach to managing our stacks to ensure we have space for our collections to grow, while quickly catching up on work that was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read on to find out more about the changes you’ll see in the Van Pelt stacks in the coming year.
Please note that all dates are approximate and subject to changes.
Summer 2022–Summer 2023
Integration of the Reference Collection into the General Stacks
Transfer of Selected Items to the Penn Libraries Research Annex (LIBRA)
Transfer of the 900s to LIBRA
What to expect: Books on the move! This is when some items will move to different locations within Van Pelt and others will move to LIBRA.
What we recommend: Checking the Franklin catalog to find out where these materials are now located.
Removal and Replacement of 4th Floor Compact Shelving
What to expect: Some construction noise and disruption on the 4th floor.
What we recommend: Finding alternate study spaces in other library locations if you often study on the fourth floor.
Removal and Replacement of 5th Floor Compact Shelving
What to expect: Some construction noise and disruption on the 5th floor.
What we recommend: Finding alternate study spaces in other library locations if you often study on the fifth floor.
Shifting and Realignment of Van Pelt Collections
What to expect: Books on the move! This is when the bulk of the reorganization will take place.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are books moving within Van Pelt?
Some books are simply moving from one area of the Van Pelt stacks to another. Many reference items, like some specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries, will be integrated into the circulating collection so you can now borrow them for the first time. Other books will be regrouped to more closely align with their subject clusters so it will be easier to browse a particular area to find what you need. For example, Social Sciences will generally be grouped on the third floor, and Humanities on the fourth floor. Shifting these collections will also help us rebalance capacity so there’s space to add new items in print.
Which books are moving to the Penn Libraries Research Annex (LIBRA)? And how can I get them after they move?
Most of the items moving to LIBRA are duplicate copies of books that will remain in Van Pelt or older material that is no longer referenced as frequently by patrons. In some cases, the books we’re moving offsite are now available electronically.
Interested in getting a book from LIBRA? Simply request it through the Franklin catalog! It will be delivered to the library of your choice in one to two business days or directly to your home address through Books By Mail.
I’m used to finding books where they are now! How can I find out their new location?
The easiest way to find a book is to check its location in the Franklin catalog. As locations change, we’ll also update the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center Floor Plans and the stacks maps, which you can find in every elevator in the building.
The majority of the shifting work will take place in Summer 2023, so you can expect to notice the most changes at that time.
Why remove the compact shelving?
The compact shelving units on the fourth and fifth floors were installed in the 1980s and they have become increasingly prone to mechanical failure. Replacing these shelves with regular static library shelving ensures that we can give you continuous and uninterrupted access to the library collections in Van Pelt.
Why can’t all these books be kept in Van Pelt?
The Libraries’ physical collections include more than 4 million books, plus tens of thousands of journals and periodicals, manuscripts, musical scores, and more, with materials in over 400 languages. Our collection is extensive, and it’s constantly growing!
Our librarians work closely with faculty and other scholars to identify emerging research areas and select new or underrepresented works that will help advance scholarship in the Penn community. Rather than discarding older and less-used items to make room for newer additions, we keep them safe, organized, and accessible offsite, so they can be delivered quickly to you when you need them.
As with any project of this size and scope, we anticipate that you may have additional questions. Please feel free to contact the Penn Libraries Transfer Coordination Team at TransferTeam@o365lists.upenn.edu for more information. As the project proceeds, we will periodically share updates on this webpage.