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New Secure Storage Facility for Law Library’s Rare Materials — Pic of the Week

Jennifer Davis and Nathan Dorn contributed to this post.

Principal Deputy Librarian of Congress Mark Sweeney (left), and Chief of Prints and Photographs Division Helena Zinkham (right) join Law Librarian of Congress Jane Sánchez as she cuts the ceremonial ribbon to open the Law Library’s new secure storage facility on June 28, 2019. Photo by Donna Sokol.

Principal Deputy Librarian of Congress Mark Sweeney (left), and Chief of Prints and Photographs Division Helena Zinkham (right) join Law Librarian of Congress Jane Sánchez as she cuts the ceremonial ribbon to open the Law Library’s new secure storage facility on June 28, 2019. Photo by Donna Sokol.

On Friday, June 28, 2019, the Law Library held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a new secure storage facility that will be home for much of the Law Library’s rare book collection. The Law Library currently stores some of its rare collection in a smaller vault as well as storing some of its rare materials in space borrowed from other divisions at the Library of Congress. Consolidating the collection improves collection security and access.

Helena Zinkham makes a ceremonial donation of the first book for the new vault to Nathan Dorn, the Law Library’s rare book curator. Photo by Geraldine Davila Gonzalez.

Helena Zinkham makes a ceremonial donation of the first book for the new vault to Nathan Dorn, the Law Library’s rare book curator. Photo by Geraldine Davila Gonzalez.

The secure storage facility differs from our existing vault in a few important ways: it has over 9,000 linear feet of shelving; it has modern compact shelving; and it has state-of-the-art cooling, humidification, fire retardation and security systems.

This new storage facility has about 4 times more shelf space than the existing vault contains. The temperature of this vault hovers between 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit–better than the Law Library’s current vault shelving space, which generally stays at 65 degrees. Relative humidity is very important for storing rare books in particular, and the relative humidity for this room is ideal. The Library can now store its manuscripts, incunables and other very rare and special materials in this modern facility knowing they are in the very best conditions possible. The vault has two rooms, with one room dedicated to holding Prints & Photographs Division collection items.

Thanks to the large size of the vault and the maximization of its shelving capacity, we will have space for growth as the Law Library continues to build its rare law book and manuscript collection. We are excited to consolidate collections and populate this room!

One Comment

  1. Donna Scheeder
    July 5, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Congratulations! So glad to see that investing in the safeguarding of the Law Library’s rare collection continues and congrats to Prints and Photographs as well.

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