Established by Royal Charter in 1964, Lancaster University is famed for its early teaching of natural sciences, business subjects, and the humanities, while a second generation of subjects focused particularly on social sciences and technology. From the outset, the university was committed to undertaking research as well as teaching, and cultivated several initiatives on the environment, physics and the creative arts.
It is currently one of a handful universities ranked in the top 10 across all national league tables in the UK. It was also awarded University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018.
To relocate over 12,000 linear metres of books and other stock, as well as a number of staff, while the university underwent renovations and remained open to the student body. We also had to implement methods for ensuring that books and other items of stock remained in classified sequence throughout the move process, including plans for books that were destined for shelves which were already occupied, and methods for ensuring that items put into storage in containers were able to be decanted in classified order at the end of the process.
The wider project consisted of a full internal refurbishment of their East Building, external refurbishment and new furniture installation, including new shelving, and minor works to the West Building. We were appointed for the full, eight-phase project. The library was to remain open and operational from the West Building throughout the move and refurbishment period, including 24-hour opening during term time which meant providing information services, book stock and study areas for students. This all needed to be factored into the relocation plan.
Library relocation and space management is one of our fields of expertise so we were very excited to handle this project when the university invited tenders for a specialist removal company with experience in the relocation of library stock and furniture.
The transfer of library stock was dependent upon the schedule of refurbishment work being completed on time by the appointed construction company. We therefore knew it was of paramount importance to ensure we were embedded into the project team to facilitate timely and effective communication between the client, the construction company, ourselves and all other stakeholders. Before the move, our project manager spent two to three days per week on site to ensure planning was completed satisfactorily.
I would not hesitate in recommending Harrow Green as a knowledgeable and efficient removal contractor who have strong understanding of library environments and the specialist cataloguing system – Anna Cockman, Lancaster University
The first phase of the project required the complete clearance of the East Building. This included the methodical packing and relocation of approximately 12,000 linear metres of books and other stock to destinations both inside and outside the library building. We dismantled, moved and re-erected a total of 6,000 linear metres of different types of shelving and cabinets. Approximately 60 library staff with associated furniture, filing and equipment were also relocated, as well as a number of OPAC machines.
A further 6,000 linear metres of books were packed and moved to our secure, off-site storage facility in a way that ensured they could be re-located in sequence at the end of the first phase. Upon completion of the book moves, we cleared 16,000 metres of redundant shelving for recycling into on-site skips, and also disposed of various items of surplus furniture, most of which was donated to a number of charities within the north-west so that we maintained our 0% to landfill policy.
We developed a detailed programme of how each phase of the move would be handled in order to complete the entire project to schedule. We also implemented a tracking system for all book stock to let library staff to know the exact location of books in transit and thus enable them to retrieve them when necessary.
One particular challenge we faced was the fact that we were responsible for working within an environment open to staff and members of the public which carries certain risks. We countered this by developing and abiding by a health and safety method statement, which we submitted to the university in advance of the move.
Despite delays to the refurbishment works, we managed to complete every phase on time, within budget and to the university’s complete satisfaction.
“Harrow Green worked in close partnership with Lancaster University throughout the multi-phase decant of the library during the refurbishment project,” said Anna Cockman, development manager for Lancaster University.
“They were collaborative and responsive and took all steps to hit the challenging deadlines, even helping us to make up time which had been lost by the overrunning building works. Throughout the project Harrow Green worked with us to develop complex phased decant plans. I would not hesitate in recommending them as a knowledgeable and efficient removal contractor who have strong understanding of library environments and the specialist cataloguing system.”
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