Recently MINNPOST had a wonderful post about the underground archives at the U of MN. Didn’t know there were caverns full of books under the Andersen Library on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota? Then you are in for a treat! The post details how the archives came about, where they are, what they look like, and how they work. “82 feet underground, … [the] two 600-foot-long caverns have been carved out of a landscape perfectly suited for them. In these caverns, millions of books, periodicals, films, artifacts and other materials are gathered in the sort of cool, dark environment that one only finds in underground caverns. One of these caverns houses the University’s Department of Archives and Special Collections, and the other houses the Minnesota Library Access Center (MLAC), which holds books for other libraries across the state of Minnesota.” With 25 foot high shelving, the MINNPOST comparison to the final credits of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is spot on. Other interesting facts:
- The internal ambient temperature is 57 degrees year-round but heated to 62 degrees, with a relative humidity of 45 to 50 percent.
- The caverns are sealed off from the outside world: A ventilation system prevents outside air from entering, and pumps protect against a 500-year flood.
- Lights are on timers to reduce the amount of light the collections are exposed to.
- Books and materials that come in are checked for mold or pest infestations, and quarantined and treated if either are found.
- Books are classified by size, with each volume bar-coded so that it can be located and filed electronically.
- The library receives a thousand requests per day.