Moving to Walter Bower House: The first boxes arrive

Elizabeth Andrews
Thursday 15 July 2021
Ever decreasing view of silver shelving. A person is just visible at the far end, looking through the shelving.
New shelving at Walter Bower House, waiting to be the home to collections.

Over the course of this summer we are excited to be moving collections, books and other materials to their new browsable home at the Walter Bower House Reading Room. The items being moved are those currently stored in closed access locations in the Main Library or in the offsite store in Dundee and are mainly research collections, rather than items which are used heavily for teaching.

Photograph of shelving holding books of many colours and sizes.
Items before they have been packed.

Around fifteen years ago, to enable the Collections Team to manage space in the Main Library more efficiently, items began to be moved into storage where they would be requested, creating space for new resources and study spaces. At first we used a small facility near Aldi in St Andrews which held 500 metres of books and journals, and then we repurposed Level 1 in the Main Library, along with additional locations in St Andrews and Dundee.

Photograph of a woman standing among grates, stretching back into the distance.
An epic task!

The collections held in storage have grown organically as space needs have dictated, and there are now 13 kilometres of books and items in these locations. Before the pandemic, the Collections Team were focused on organising 20 different collection sequences so that they were as accessible and as easy to browse as possible, once moved to Walter Bower House (not a small task…imagine Tetris for Libraries!).

Photograph of boxes stacked beside new shleving waiting to be unloaded.
Boxes newly arrived and ready to be shelved in the Walter Bower House reading room.


Given the size of the collections to be moved a specialist removal firm have been hired to work with Library staff. The removal firm began work on 7th June and we hope to have the move completed by the week beginning 9th August. So far, they have moved nearly 5 kilometres.

Photograph showing the covers of three books.
Some items in the collections.

This has been a fantastic opportunity for us to evaluate and organise our collections, ready for them to be browsable for the first time, and it’s been great to see our team’s hard work come to fruition.

We cannot wait to welcome users to Walter Bower House to uncover some of our gems. But of course, anyone not able to travel to the facility will still be able to order items to be picked up at the Main Library or scans delivered directly to email.


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