By Amanda Nelson, Associate Archivist and Melanie Mueller, Assistant Director
For the past two months, the archive stacks at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives have been going through a transformation. After twenty years of solid use, our shelving system had begun to show its age, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to move the hand-crank mechanism to access our records. With the support of the American Center for Physics (ACP) board, we were able to embark on replacing our shelving and the work began on May 15th.
The work was done in two phases – in each phase, half of the archive was emptied, gutted to the floor, the system was replaced, and the shelving was reconstructed. The two-phase construction allowed us to keep the records in the building during the replacement project. First, archives staff draped the processing area with plastic to protect expensive preservation supplies and set up a temporary processing space in the storage area of the archives which is normally used to house new donations. Temporary storage locations were identified around our building and large wooden storage carts were used to move the necessary collections.
During construction additional plastic sheeting was draped over the records and journals remaining in the archives. Then the Spacesaver construction team began breaking down the metal shelving to expose the broken carriages and track system on the floor. The old carriages and track parts were removed and disposed of, while the metal shelving units were saved and reused after the new electric track system was installed. One half of the archive at a time was gutted to expose the bare concrete floor before the new electric track system could be installed. The new tracks were then installed and the metal shelving was reconstructed. Once the first half of the shelving system replacement was complete, the process was repeated on the other half of the archive.
The whole archive was completed by July 1st and we are currently repainting the walls and installing new flooring in both our archive stacks and the processing area. We expect this work to be completed in the next few weeks. We thank our researchers and patrons for your patience while we had limited access to our collection and we look forward to having you return soon and showing off our updated area during tours and to our co-workers at ACP.