Library Alteration Plan and Updates

Our new entrance on Scenic is open. It's just around the corner from the Ridge Road entrance.

The FAQ section below contains updated information.

Hybrid Library Services and Collection Move

The Graduate Theological Union Library is undergoing alterations to its services to support hybrid print and digital collections and teaching and learning services. The library is preparing to support GTU’s goals of bringing the GTU community together under one roof, increasing unity and collaborative opportunities to advance interreligious learning and dialogue.

As part of this transformation, the physical footprint for the library’s collections will be significantly reduced while hybrid digital services and collections are introduced. The Hewlett Library building’s first floor and will become dedicated library space for research collections and patron services, including the reference and circulation desks.

The multi-year transition will involve 1) collection consolidation, 2) expanded collaboration with other research libraries, and 3) digital library development.

Project goals for the initial collection consolidation are to

  • Consolidate the research collections
  • Reduce the collection footprint 30% (~7-10,000 linear feet)
  • Avoid additional long-term storage costs (permanent off-site shelving options)
  • Sustain GTU’s status as a research organization by securing access to research content in digital forms and print collections held elsewhere

The GTU Library will explore and pursue several strategies, commonly used among research libraries, to address reductions in the physical footprint for collections. These include:

  • Digitization and Controlled Digital Lending with a digitization partner. Donation of print collections to Internet Archive for non-destructive scanning. Users discover the digital surrogate through the library catalog and access it via a digital loan (“check out”) controlled by Internet Involves initial catalog reintegration of the digital surrogate, digital branding, and ongoing metadata maintenance. A mid-term strategy for libraries under immediate space pressure.
  • Participation in Shared Print Programs. A form of collaboration among research libraries to ensure the persistence of research resources through distributed retention commitments to print books and journal backfiles. GTU commits to retain certain titles for 15 to 25 years and relies upon commitments made by others in formal institutional agreements among research libraries. Journal collections are verified and consolidated in high density book storage systems with full access services to partners. Interlibrary lending services ensure access to retained copies. Examples: SCELC Shared Print Program and Western Regional Storage Trust program. A durable long-term strategy.
  • Participation in Shared Digitization and Digital Preservation programs. A form of collaboration among research libraries to digitize scholarly resources and support the resulting collective digital collection and digital humanities research capabilities. Includes a shared print program. Example: HathiTrust houses the digital surrogates from mass digitization by Google that occurs at Tier1 research libraries. HathiTrust provides access to public domain items and discovery (only) of in-copyright materials. As copyright years advance and copyright evaluation occurs, materials gradually roll into the public domain. A durable long-term strategy.
  • Purchasing eBooks and e-Journal backfiles. Acquisition of institutional licenses to books and journals, negotiated with publishers and third-party digital preservation agents. Involves ongoing collection development, e-resource management, metadata description, digital discovery, and access management. A near and mid-term strategy for libraries with stable base funding and large one-time funding options.


Operational Phases

The multi-year project involves several overlapping operational phases.

  • Phase 1: Move out of collections to be digitized. Collections are rapidly processed and removed from the building in order to be digitized. Rare books are moved to temporary storage for safe-keeping and will be returned after the collection shift. Microforms, monographs, reference materials, and some periodicals are donated to Internet Archive for digitization and future controlled digital lending.
  • Phase 2: Large scale shift and signage. A subcontractor shifts the remaining collections into the existing first-floor shelves. New signage and wayfinding throughout the library help patrons locate the newly organized collections and services.
  • Phase 3: Analysis and decisions for shared print contributions, digitization, and e-acquisitions. Librarians use specialized decision-support tools to compare holdings against other peer library holdings, digital holdings, and commercially available eBook and e-journal collections to make decisions about where to relocate print holdings permanently, when to purchase e-resources to replace print, and when to rely on holdings of other libraries (in print or digital forms).
  • Phase 4: Enable e-Access and Adjust Policies. Librarians reconnect digitized copies or purchased copies into the catalog. Shared print and shared digital program agreements are negotiated and enabled in discovery, access, and collection management capabilities. Librarians and the faculty library committee revise the collection development policy to steer development of the collections in the future in terms of subjects, formats, number of copies, and reliance on library partners.
FAQ on Library Alterations

No, we aren't finished yet, but the physical part of the library alterations is complete. We are on Phase 4. Many of our collections now appear on and the number of digitized items grows weekly. The library staff is working more behind the scenes evaluating our resources and working to obtain the best balance between student and faculty needs and the budget. Online resources are often more expensive than physical items, but don't take up any shelf space- however more of the students and faculty are at a distance, so all of these factors are a consideration as we move through this phase.

Media collections (audio/visual materials) have been moved to SFTS/GST Branch Library in San Anselmo.

These can be delivered to Berkeley by placing them on hold in the catalog, and they will be brought over in the SFTS van.

For patrons at SFTS, place these on hold in the catalog or just ask at the desk.

Of the 85,000 single volume monographs removed from the collections and digitized, about 49,000 are duplicates and about 36,000 are non-duplicates.

Single volume monographs (items)

Duplicates pre-1960:    ~16,000

Duplicates 1960-2010:   ~33,000

Non-duplicates:      36,091


Duplicates are based on exact edition match. The actual number of duplicates is higher. Duplicates are reviewed for usage, classroom teaching requirements, or recent acquisition before removal.

1960 is slightly arbitrary, but it is an illustration of the original member schools' own libraries - the combination of which was the founding collection of the GTU Library.


Criteria for removal of non-duplicates are applied slightly differently in each subject. In general, the bar for removal of titles in Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, Specific Religions, Doctrinal Theology, Practical Theology (LC Classes Bs) is much higher than the bar for removal of titles in History, Geography, Social Sciences and Sciences (LC Classes C-V).

Criteria considered for removal of non-duplicate monographs are adjusted to be more or less stringent in each subject, and include:

  • in copyright/public domain status
  • digitized and in HathiTrust
  • US holdings >50 copies and/or UC holdings > 2 copies
  • committed to retain elsewhere in a formal shared print partnership in which GTU is a member: SCELC, ATLA or other peer libraries
  • Not committed to retain by GTU library in the SCELC shared print partnership
  • <5 uses in History, Geography, Social Sciences and Sciences
  • single volume monographs, not multivolume sets

The library is currently evaluating electronic availability in the marketplace for periodicals held in print.  Institutional licenses for electronic journals and other periodicals are costly, as are backfile purchases of historical issues. Phase 4 of the alteration project will include estimates for backfile purchases for potential fundraising.

Shared print programs are explicit, long term partnerships among libraries to preserve content and provide access. Interlibrary borrowing and lending does not include a guarantee that the holding library will retain the resource in perpetuity or for some number of years.

No, because compact shelving (the rolling shelves) are high density, generally the floor has to be rated to hold double the weight (300 lbs per sq ft.) vs. standard open shelving. When the GTU library was built, the floor below the existing compact shelving was designed with the weight of the shelving mechanisms and high density storage in mind. Other parts of the building were built for standard weight bearing, so we cannot add compact shelving.

We don't have a plan yet for extending the hours, as we continue to evaluate post-pandemic use. For 2023, we are planning on a 9am-6pm M-Th, and 9am-5pm F schedule. If you are looking for a quiet place to study late at night or on weekends, consider visiting the libraries of UC-Berkeley, only a block away. We are open to feedback about library hours. 

The SFTS van retrieves and delivers materials twice weekly, on Mondays and Thursdays.

The collections currently occupy approximately 26,000 linear feet on 2 floors and the future shelving space is approximately 18,000 linear feet, so we must reduce the collection by about 8,000-9,000 linear feet.

Approximately 85,000 single volume monographs will be removed from the collections and digitized.

About half of the periodicals collection (3,000-5,000) linear feet will be relocated, either to storage, for digitization, or for preservation elsewhere in shared print programs.

The correlation of volumes to linear feet to shelves is not an exact science, as volume sizes (widths and heights) vary by publication type, discipline, and other factors. Shelf sizes and rack heights also vary. All numbers are estimates. As a very rough estimate, 1 shelf = ~3 feet, ~8-13 monograph volumes = 1 linear foot, 1 fairly complete periodical backfile = 40 volumes (avg. 1.2 title changes).

Between 20 and 30%. We have existing access to some, others will need subscription or purchase, budget permitting.

Chat a reference librarian if you need help logging in.

Shared print programs are cooperative agreements among research libraries to preserve and provide access to print publication, such that member libraries can make informed decisions about what to keep locally and when to rely upon others for access. Research Libraries in North America have developed these partnerships starting in the 1990s to address a foreseeable collective lack of space for research collections and diminishing capital funding for storage facilities. These programs accelerated growth in recent years, both in terms of resources under cooperative retention commitments and scope of member institutions.

Examples include

The Center for Research Libraries’ Print Preservation program maintains a registry of shared print programs in North America: Print Archives Preservation Registry

Most shared print programs also include

  1. specialized analytics services to help member libraries compare catalog holdings and make decisions about what to keep based on retention commitments made

2) options for offering holdings to other libraries for retention

3) validation services, to verify holdings for completeness and condition, typically prior to ingest into a high-density book storage system.

4) cataloging and interlibrary lending standards to harmonize behaviors across libraries

GTU Library is currently a member of the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC) and participates in the ATLA serials exchange.

GTU Library and the Faculty Library Committee will consider membership(s) in additional shared print programs in Phase 3 of the alterations project.

Linear foot this is the measurement that libraries use to determine how much shelf space a collection needs. Our shelves are 3 linear feet long each, and generally we stack them seven shelves high. Generally, 8-13 volumes fit in one linear foot, depending on thickness. 

Monograph is a book or document that is complete in itself. An example would be a single volume book on a topic.

Paging refers to the act of a member of our staff collecting materials that have been requested by patrons and bringing them to the circulation desk for pickup. In our library, place items on hold via the catalog, and you will get an email when the item has been collected and is ready for you.

Periodicals are publications issued periodically or at regular (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, annually etc.) intervals. Examples of periodicals include: scholarly journals or annual conference proceedings. Periodicals are sometimes called Serials, as they are published in a series and numbered.