10 things you might want to remember when you have to move your library

Getting ready

1. Calculating what will fit isn’t hard – just decide on an average number of books to a linear metre or however long your shelves are, and do the maths.  However, books are generally expanding – new books are bigger, fatter and annoyingly taller than older books so adjust accordingly

2. Keep the faith! If you have counted all your books and journals at least 4 times and done the space calculations they WILL all fit.

3. Putting sticky dots on books is not a good idea. Especially if you are likely to move again – there are only so many different colour combinations. Coloured paper tags worked well for us with a pencil mark on the label and a note on the catalogue.

4. Relax all your rules about loan numbers (if you loan them) before the move. The more books your patrons take out, the less you have to pack and move.

5. Anticipate filling all your shelves to a maximum of 75%, probably less. You will always have books which mysteriously reappear, and you will also have growth. And if you have neither of these, you will at least have a nice face-on display option.


6. Companies who call themselves ‘library moves specialists’ generally aren’t and rarely understand sequencing, especially if you need to interfile. They will probably be ok at packing but you might as well do the unpacking/reshelving yourself. If so, make sure you have someone hefty around to help you shift crates.

7. Number all your crates 1,2,3 etc. Don’t bother with Class numbers. Remember, if crates are in stacks numbered 1-4 when packed, they will be loaded on to the van 4-1, then unloaded 1-4 again with the first crate you need at the bottom of the pile. (Hence point 6). Or start from the end.

Your new library

8. Don’t believe everything you are told about the design. No matter how many times you’ve discussed it, when the design is completed it will not reflect everything you asked for. They will have put the shelves in the wrong place, blocked up the wrong door or built your desk the wrong way round. Get in early to inspect while they are working if you can to check what’s happening, even if it means donning a hard hat.

9. Nobody understands about library security. Initial designs will almost certainly include your secure entrance/exit and a variety of other unsecured ways in and out of the building.

And finally……

10. Don’t believe anything anyone tells you about dates. I joined the RHS in December 2014 with a specific brief to plan for a move at Easter 2015. That soon became September, then Christmas, Jan 16, then Easter again. We eventually publicised our move for March 6th 2017 and it was still delayed for a week – we finally moved on 16.3.17.

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