While the bricks-and-mortar phase of Alderman renovation won’t be for a while yet, the necessity of relocating the stacks before the work starts has created an opportunity for a project that many library staffers have long wished for—finding books that have been missing in action since the catalog went from cards and auto-generated IDs to computer records and barcodes in 1996. The inventory project to account for all 1,850,000 items in Alderman’s print collection (excluding things like maps and microforms) means the public will be better served with an up-to-date catalog, and that decisions being made now about Alderman’s future will be based on accurate information.A triage team of library staff is out combing the stacks for worst-case preservation problems, and a team of contract workers from Backstage Library Works is following section by section, cleaning books, meticulously matching books to records, supplying records for books in the stacks that aren’t in the catalog, and attaching barcodes to the missing titles. Mismatched titles and call numbers are flagged for special attention and routed to library Cataloging staff and former staff who have been hired as temps to bring their skills to the project. When errors have been corrected, books are sent to the 4th floor sorting area for re-shelving. If any need repair, they go to Preservation.
Circulation is posting alerts at Alderman’s 4th floor desk about current stacks inventory zones, which remain open to the public for browsing and for checking out books. The Inventory crews are glad to accommodate anyone who needs to retrieve an item; and although titles that have been pulled for special attention cannot be recalled, people who need items can place an Interlibrary Loan request—just be sure to note that the UVA copy is unavailable.
Actual renovation of Alderman Library space is not imminent, but a renovation of Alderman’s collection is going forward. Titles that had been invisible are appearing perhaps for the first time in VIRGO. And when the books return from their temporary homes after Alderman’s been transformed, the library’s stacks and catalog will be in as good a shape as the building.