Journal of Building Construction and Planning Research, 2013, 1, 83-88
Published Online December 2013 (
Open Access JBCPR
Korean Academic Librarians’ Recognition of the High
Density Book Storage System
Joonsuk Ahn
Department of Architecture, Kyonggi University, Suwon, South Korea.
Received November 1st, 2013; revised November 25th, 2013; accepted December 4th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Joonsuk Ahn. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. In accordance of
the Creative Commons Attribution License all Copyrights © 2013 are reserved for SCIRP and the owner of the intellectual property
Joonsuk Ahn. All Copyright © 2013 are guarded by law and by SCIRP as a guardian.
Korean academic libraries are facing a serious space shortage problem due to the inability to uphold the rapidly in-
creasing amount of printed materials despite having expanded the number of physical facilities. Data computerization
has been considered as a solution to the issue, but deliberation for the High Density Book Storage System has been on
the rise because of its impressive method of preserving printed materials in a realistic facility. Despite the different
methods of print material storage, Korean academic libraries have largely focused on investing in the least efficient
method of compact shelving to solve this issue. It is hypothesized that the misuse of funds on inefficient systems is oc-
curring due to the lack of knowledge about the high-density book storage systems like the Harvard model. In order to
propose a realistic solution to the academic library space shortage crisis on a logical basis, it is imperative that a study
of academic librarians is conducted to investigate their knowledge on such efficient storage systems.
Keywords: Space Shortage Problem; Academic Library Facility; High Density Book Storage; Harvard Model
1. Introduction
Korea’s rapid economic grown in the 1980s brought
enormous spatial expansion to the physical facilities as-
sociated with academic libraries. The growth allowed for
a new era in establishment of modern Korean academic
libraries and fostered a positive impact on collegiate en-
vironments nationwide. Beginning in 1955 with only 43
total public and private academic libraries in the entire
country, Korea reached a to tal of 523 facilities in 2009.
More importantly, there was a noticeable increase in
book quantity. W ith 1,297,0 34 book s observed in Korean
academic libraries in 1955, the number was registered at
121,479,083 by 2009 [1]. Figure 1 presents the rapid
growth curve of printed materials observed in academic
libraries from year 1955 to 2009. Table 1 shows the
comparison of number of books, academic library facili-
ties, and librarians between 1955 and 2009 in Korea. The
total of amount of books had expanded by 9370%, and
that increase was almost 8 times faster than the growth of
academic library facilities. This exponential growth cre-
ated a serious space shortage problem for all Korean
academic libraries and slowly led to academic environ-
ment degradation. Figure 2 represents the problem gra-
The vastly increasing quantities of printed materials
and the library space shortages brought about by it are
the biggest problems facing current academic libraries in
Korea. Korean academic libraries have been in search of
efficient book storage systems to solve the issue. The
movable compact shelving unit, also referred to as the
‘mobile rack’, is widely utilized. Since the adoption of
the movable compact shelving system, open access sys-
tems have been put in place. The open access system
provides higher service qu ality for its users, but it is lim-
ited in space efficiency. The alternative closed access
system lacks a user-friendly operating system; however,
it has much higher space efficiency at a significantly
lower cost. Judging by the cost-benefit tradeoff, the
closed access high-density book storage system is the
only logical option to resolve the academic libraries’
space shortage crisis [2].
The study was projected to assess Korean librarians’
understanding of high-density book storage facilities
used for academic and research purposes, and identify
Korean Academic Librarians’ Recognition of the High Density Book Storage System
Table 1. Number of academic library facilities, books, and
librarians in 1955/2009.
Year 1955 2009
Libraries 43 523
Books 1,297,034 121,479,083
Librarians 207 3686
Figure 1. Book accumulation of academic libraries in Ko-
Figure 2. Comparison of book growth to library facility
growth [3].
reasons for the lack of establishment of such facilities in
Korea. The analysis of the survey responses will serv e as
a method to further resolve the space shortage crisis in a
workable fashion.
2. High Density Book Storage: Harvard
In the 90’s, Harvard began its construction of high den-
sity book storages, the “Harvard Model”, as an efficient
method of preserving low use print materials to serve as
the solution for the space shortage problems in academic
libraries. The Harvard Model provides extremely high
space efficiency at a low cost. The original idea for this
system was inspired by the distribution and warehouse
industry. This system has spread all over the world and
has now become a development standard for book stor-
age facilities [4]. Figure 3 shows the shelving system of
Harvard Model at Rice University Library Service Center.
More than 100 high-density book storage facilities have
been built worldwide, 73 of those located just in the
United States.
However, it has been found that Korean academic li-
brarians have a definite preference for open access sys-
tems and there have not been any Harvard model stor-
ages constructed in Korea. An overwhelming majority of
librarians continue to prefer expensive library buildings
in lieu of low cost storage facilities despite the fact that
new open access library facilities will never resolve
space shortage problems. Many libraries have installed
movable compact shelving units or remodeled their fa-
cilities to further accommodate, but these methods only
postpone the impacts of the space shortage problem.
These libraries inevitably face the same space shortage
problems just after a couple of years after the completion
of such constructions [5].
3. Survey Questionnaires & Evaluation
Previous surveys show that Korean academic librarians
have acknowledged the need for high-density book stor-
age systems in order to resolve space shortage problems.
It is proposed that th ese librarians continue to so lely util-
ize the movable compact shelving system, the mobile
rack, with the exception of Sungkyul University’s ASRS
(Automated storage and retrieval system), because of
their lack of understanding of high density book storage
systems to make an informed decision on selecting the
most efficient storage methods. As librarians are the most
important individuals when making decisions on new
constructions, remodeling projects, and operation sys-
tems of their respective academic libraries, it is important
to investigate librarians’ understanding of the high den-
sity book storage systems and their knowledge of oppor-
tunities to resolve space shortage problems.
Figure 3. Harvard model storage system at Rice University.
Open Access JBCPR
Korean Academic Librarians’ Recognition of the High Density Book Storage System 85
Questionnaires regarding the issue above were distrib-
uted to 463 academic librarians through email. Replies
were received through “Google Drive” from 75 librarians
at 169 universities in Korea from June 10-16, 2011. The
same questionnaires were sent to another 1186 academic
librarians at accredited 4-year universities resulting in
182 replies throughout a period from June 26th through
June 30th, 2011. The questionnaires resulted in a re-
sponse rate of 15.5% and a total of 257 responses.
The survey was comprised by 7 questionnaires as be-
The necessity for the adoption of high density book
storage systems to resolve the space shortage problem
Knowledge abou t high density b ook stor age typ es and
operational options
Critical decision making elements on library facility
Preferred methods of obtaining extra space to pre-
serve printed materials
Application plans for any possible available space
Plans of developing extra book storage space with the
exception of building a new library
Understanding of cooperative book storage facilities
3.1. How Effective Do You Believe the High
Density Book Storage System Will Be in
Reducing the Space Shortage in Your
The purpose of this question was to measure the librari-
ans’ opinion on the efficacy of high-density book storage
systems in solving the space shortage issue. Figure 4
represents the replies of this questionnaire. Out of 243
total replies, 159 (53%) and 100 (41%) responded that
the high-density storage system would be very effective
and effective, respectively. Judging from the data that
shows a large majority, 94% of the responses, were posi-
tive for the implementation of high-density storage sys-
tems, it is concluded that most academic librarians are in
favor of introducing this type of method into the nation’s
library system. From the small percentage of negative
responses (1%), it can be said that there are hardly any
opinions opposing high-density book storage systems.
Those librarians who responded with a negative attitude
towards this type of management system showed a lack
of understanding of such systems and an extreme prefer-
ence for open access management.
3.2. Choose All High Density Book Storage
Types in Which You Are Familiar with the
Method of Operation
This question was posed to librarians so that they would
choose all types of high-density book storage systems in
which they understood all facilit y and managing systems
in order to investigate their level of understanding for
each type of system. The survey result is shown in Fig-
ure 5. As expected, the compact shelving system (mo-
bile-rack) received a large sum of 221 votes (91%) fol-
lowed by the Automated Storage and Retrieval System
(ASRS) with 93 votes (38%); however, only 4% of li-
brarians identified as fully understanding the Harvard
Model, in additio n to a surprising 3% of librarians which
stated that they had no understanding of high density
book storages. It is inferred that Sungkyul University’s
2010 construction of ASRS models helped in informing
librarians about this specific method possibly resulting in
the high number of votes for this system. It was unex-
pected that so many librarians, 34%, showed a high un-
derstanding for the outdated Multi-Tiered Stack Core
System, but the result is interpreted as the librarians’
informed knowledge about the history of librarians and
their shelving systems.
The fact that Korean academic librarians have such
limited knowledge about high-density book storages sys-
tems like the Harvard model, which has already become
a standard in the United States and Europe, shows the
librarians’ lack of understanding is even far more limited
than as previously predicted. The results of this survey
show that it is imperative that further knowledge about
this type of system is more widely distributed.
Figure 4. Necessity of high density book storage.
Figure 5. Awareness of high density book storage types.
Open Access JBCPR
Korean Academic Librarians’ Recognition of the High Density Book Storage System
3.3. What Is the Most Critical Element You
Consider When Selecting a Book Storage
The 66% of librarians replied that the book storage
capacity per square footage, therefore space efficiency,
was a critical element when selecting a storage type. This
result is a strong representation of the magnitude of the
academic library space shortage problem alongside the
librarians’ desire to resolve the issue. It signifies that
spatial efficiency, rather than construction cost, should be
deemed the highest priority when selecting a storage
system. From the results, it can be inferred that librarian s
would prefer a facility with guaranteed space efficiency
even with a trade off with time spent on budget
collection comp ared to a shortsighted facility.
19% of the responses chose construction cost as sec-
onding space efficiency in elements to be considered
when choosing a stor age facility. Difficulties in fulfilling
a budget to construct a book storage system pushed
opinions to prefer economical and practical facilities. A
small minority of the responses chose options such as
operational manpower (4%), operation and maintenance
cost (5%), facility location (6%), showing that these
other alternatives were far less critical compared to es-
tablishment cost and space efficiency. Figure 6 shows
the replies of this question. The Harvard Model is the
most space efficient of the book storage systems with a
low operation and maintenance cost needed for man-
power in addition to low construction costs. Judging
from the responses received from the pool of librarians
surveyed, such systems that fully accommodate for all
the considerations are the best options that should be
introduced into the natio n.
3.4. Which Option Is Best for Securing Extra
Library Space? (Under Limited Budget)
Responses shown in Figure 7 indicated that 40% of li-
brarians’ preferred storage options that are economical
and better insure security of budget. However, large
opinions showed that librarians still largely believed that
at equal costs, they preferred open access to closed ac-
cess services even if that meant less space efficiency
(37%). It is thought that this is because when the ques-
tionnaire was formulated, the survey did not mention that
open access storage systems preserved a mere 10% of
what a high density book storage would under the same
given square footage. Because librarians lack full under-
standing of the space efficiency potentials of the high-
density book storage system, they still select the open
access storage that matches the traditional library struc-
ture at a high percentage. Regardless of construction
costs, librarians who supported the open access storage
systems (15%) were relatively higher than those who
Figure 6. Critical decision element on storage type selection.
Figure 7. Options for securing extra space for library.
supported the high density storage systems (9%), result-
ing in an overall 52% of votes preferring the open access
system compared to the 47% that preferred the high den-
sity storage. It is inferred that the preference for the less
efficient system is due to the insufficient understanding
of the fairly new concept of high-density book storages.
In addition, it can also be inferred that the librarians and
other library staff that are under the constant stress of
space shortage unquestioningly prefer the open access
service because they aren’t completely aware of the full
import of the issue.
3.5. If It Were Possible to Transfer 500,000
Books to a New High Density Book Storage,
What Would Be the Biggest Benefit to Your
Improvements to shelving arrangements and operational
convenience (52%) and the addition of a rest area to im-
prove environmental quality (20%) were the top two po-
tential usages of the new available space acquired from
the implementation of th e high-density book storage sys-
tem. The opinions of librarians that believed that benefits
brought about by an information commons and learning
commons (12%) were important showed new up and
coming trend of considerations for newly available space
Open Access JBCPR
Korean Academic Librarians’ Recognition of the High Density Book Storage System 87
followed by the suggestion to add more reading space
and open access shelving (10%), and adding space for
new equipment for academic use (5%). Figure 8 repre-
sents the librarians’ opinion on the new available space
Over half of the opinions stating that extra space
should be used for better shelving arrangement provide
evidence of the librarians’ strong will to improve the
spatial quality of the library. Furthermore, the other in-
clination to use space to add more resting areas shows
the movement of librarians’ ideology of “Library as a
Place” [6], showing that economic growth naturally coin-
cides with cultural development.
3.6. If You Could Not Secure a Budget for an
Independent Library Facility, Which Do
You Believe Is the Most Practical Plan
among the Options Listed below?
For alternatives for obtaining book storage space, exten-
sion of closed access book storages received 39% of the
votes, being the most preferred, followed by utilization
of other existing facility (storage, basement, etc.) on
campus at 29%, open access book storage extension with
13%; building rent for remote off campus book storages
at 3% was found as a minority opinion. Figure 9 shows
the result of this questionnaire survey.
Figure 8. Potential usage of extra space provided by high
density book storages.
Figure 9. Alternatives to high density book storage.
Librarians showed no preference in including a book
storage space in basements of developing buildings, al-
beit the option would allow for the implementation of a
practical plan for maximum usage of real estate while
providing a properly designed environment for book
storage. It is probable that the idea of a basement brought
about an image of a dark and humid environment with
deficient ventilation that was negatively perceived as a
good space for book storage; it is also possible that the
librarians were displeased with the idea of storing books
in a location other than a library.
Misconceived by those librarians, this alternative does
not conceptualize an environment in which an already
existing low quality basement is transformed into book
storage. Rather, the option would allow for a new library
facility to be constructed underground. If moisture con-
trol and appropriate ventilation were implemented, the
benefits of an underground facility, including heat and
sound insulation quality, protection from direct sunlight,
and structural stability, would serve remarkably as book
storage. The benefits of a basement facility are currently
greatly underappreciated, thus resulting in this particular
survey result.
3.7. What Do You Believe Is the Best Way to
Accomplish a Cooperative Storage System in
That Universities Come Together to
Construct Book Storage under an
Economical Budget?
Table 2 indicates the librarians’ preference of the coop-
erative book storage. Librarians most preferred the coop-
erative book storage system that implemented joint own-
ership, joint management (35%). The options of preserv-
ing books together with separate ownership and separate
management of a shared storage were voted with similar
preferences (23% and 20%, respectively). Shared stor-
ages being built by the university with funding, bu t rent-
ing out the facility and having the cooperative storage
stores and manages its own books without duplicates
both resulted in 10% of the votes. Unique from the other
surveys given thus far, this particular questionnaire pre-
sented with a tendency to present preferences for all op-
tions fairly consistently.
However, as a result of government oversight that in-
duces extreme competitions amongst Korean universities,
the goal of joint preservation, joint ownership, and joint
management among these educational institutions will be
a difficult target to meet. In consequence, joint construc-
tion of book storage with independent management will
be the most realistic goal for Korean in stitutions.
4. Conclusion and Discussion
As concluded from the results of the full survey, the
Open Access JBCPR
Korean Academic Librarians’ Recognition of the High Density Book Storage System
Open Access JBCPR
Table 2. Preference of cooperative book storage types.
Cooperative Book Storage Types No. of
Under agreement among all the institutions involved,
establish a cooperative storage system under joint
ownership and joint management and work to share
data to preserve only single copies of printed
materi a l .
90 (35)
The cooperative storage owns and manages the
facility and books independently, preserving single
copies of all printed material
25 (10)
Under full agreement by the involved institutions,
books are preserved together, but owned separa tely
by respective universities
57 (23)
The storage is shared, but managed separately 56 (22)
Book storage is built by institution with funding and
rented or co-managed by other institutions 25 (10)
Total 253 (100)
disuse of high density book facilities such as th e Harvard
Model that compose of 60% of American libraries and
the overwhelming use of the movable compact shelving
(mobile-rack) system by all Korean universities (with the
exception of Sungkul University) signify Korean aca-
demic librarians’ limited knowledg e of high density book
storage types and storage alternatives.
Considering the outstanding space efficiency and eco-
nomic feasibility of high-density book storage systems,
the questionnaires were returned with somewhat unex-
pected replies; however, such responses may be rational-
ized if the librarians answered the surveys with the
thought of movable compact shelving in mind because of
their lack of understanding of the high-density book
storage types. Judging from the inadequate understanding
of high-density book storage systems by librarians who
are considered experts in the field of library management,
it can be said that the public’s awareness of such facili-
ties is even more minimal.
Nevertheless, the librarians unanimously adhered to
the idea that resolving space shortage problems was their
primary priority and in order to meet that goal, facilities
must have the outstanding space efficiency. Informing
these experts with the strengths and weaknesses of vari-
ous book storage types and then reconducting the surveys
will ultimately result in meaningful chang es to respon ses.
Because there is no record of cooperative storage prece-
dents in Korea, the responses regarding su ch facilities are
seen to have resulted in more notional responses; how-
ever, it can be understood that work experience has
naturally rooted understanding in our library experts.
This study was conducted to gauge Korean librarians’
understanding of high-density book storage facilities
widely used for academic and research purposes in
highly developed countries and identify reasons why
such storage systems were not constructed in Korea. The
questionnaire serves as a measure of awareness of li-
brarians on the library space shortage crisis. By analyz-
ing the data retrieved from this survey, we can further
work to resolve the space problem in a practical yet
meaningful manner.
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[2] J. Ahn, “Space Efficiency Improvement Plan for Aca-
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Using the Digital Preservation,” Proceedings of the 13th
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tion of Information Management, Seoul, August 2006, pp.
[4] J. Ahn, “Study on High-Density Library Storage as a
Solution to the Space Shortage Problem: A Case Study of
Rice University Library Service Center,” Journal of Ko-
rean Institute of Educational Facilities, Vol. 17, No. 6,
2010, pp. 23-30.
[5] L. Payne, “Library Storage Facilities and the Future of
Print Collections in North America,” OCLA Online
Computer Library Center, Inc., Dublin, 2007
[6] K. Antell and D. Engel, “Stimulating Space, Serendipi-
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