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Library Holdings Moving Underground

As of November 1, Smith will join its fellow consortium members in moving some of its library holdings to a new Five College Library Depository (FCLD) located 32 feet beneath the surface of the Mount Holyoke Range in Amherst.

The facility, which will eventually house some 500,000 volumes from the five area colleges’ libraries, is housed in a two-story underground bunker that once served as headquarters of the former Northeast Strategic Air Command. The underground location will provide a secure, climate-controlled storage area -- with a constant temperature of between 50 and 55 degrees -- for many of the libraries’ lesser-used materials. It will allow the libraries to free up valuable shelf space and to adapt their collections into new areas of knowledge, according to a Five Colleges, Inc. press release.

The bunker is owned by Amherst College, which uses three-quarters of the facility’s 40,000 square feet. The Five College Librarians Council will lease 10,000 square feet from Amherst College for the FCLD.

The storage facility’s new project manager is David G. Spoolstra, who was hired by the council following a national search. Spoolstra, who will work at Amherst College in collaboration with the council, will be responsible for organizing, managing and providing services in the off-site shelving facility. Most of the storage facility’s holdings will be transferred in during the next three years.

Materials at the FCLD will be obtainable through the libraries’ interlibrary loan service and the facility will provide space for research.

The FCLD has been funded in part by a $1.1 million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant.

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