Shelving and storage in the modern HE library

Richard Ryan, Managing Director of Forster Ecospace Ltd, talks us through the company’s approach to library design.

UB You’ve been established in the UK for nearly 25 years now. Would you say that that University

      Libraries are your core business?


RR We do work in other areas including archives, records and commercial offices, museums and, with   

      picture racking, in art galleries but the majority of our work is with university libraries. 


UB When you hear that a new library is being planned, how do you proceed?


RR Generally speaking, there are three different organisations involved; the University itself, its

      architects and a main contractor. At the design stages, we work with the library and the architects. 

      Being able to supply and install both static and mobile shelving and with our ability to offer different

      colour finishes and materials including glass and veneers for end panels, we are able to meet virtually

      every specification. And where existing collections are to be moved into new shelving, we’re also  

      happy to survey the collection and advise on the best method of storage when it’s moved. Once the

      specification is determined, and provided our tender is accepted, we work closely with the

      contractor to ensure that the installation is carried out in accordance with the agreed time schedule.


UB What do you think are the reasons for a library or an architect getting in touch with Ecospace?


RR Firstly, before Ecospace was established in the UK, our Austrian parent company, the Forster Group,

      won the tender to supply and install the second phase of the shelving in the British Library building in

      the Euston Road.  That in itself speaks for the quality of our product range and Ecospace has

      combined that with a total commitment to working closely with potential clients in order to fulfill

      their requirements. That means not only getting the design right but getting the installation done on

      schedule and providing an ongoing service once that has been completed. For example, we are

      currently moving and rebuilding shelving which was installed sixteen years ago in Kings College

      Library in London.


     We also can now show potential clients many different completed projects so that they can see for

     themselves the work we have done in different libraries and the variations that we are able to offer.

     Universities now regularly have diverse collections including rare books, special collections, artwork,     

     maps etc. Being able to supply all of the necessary types of storage means we’re in a position

     to provide a fully comprehensive solution to house diverse collections to co-ordinate finishes and

     signage to complement the theme being sought by the architects, designers and the client.


     We’ve just completed Birmingham University Library, we’re currently installing shelving in Royal

     Holloway’s  new library and Lancaster University was completed last year. Other recent projects

     Include the Brynmor Jones Library at Hull University, the Laidlaw Library in Leeds and the shelving

     throughout the refurnished New Bodleian Library in Oxford (now the Weston Library) which houses

     the Special Collections of the Bodleian Library.   Phase two of the open-access mobile shelving within

     the Bodleian Law Library in Oxford was completed in September last year and perfectly matched


     phase one installed some five years previously.



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