May 17, 2022

Off-Site Storage and Preservation: A Visit to the Ruth Lilly Auxiliary Library Facility at Indiana University Bloomington

From News at IU:

Just north of the IU Bloomington campus is a repository with an interior that rivals something out of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” But instead of finding the Ark of the Covenant, visitors to Indiana University’s Ruth Lilly Auxiliary Library Facility discover treasures in the form of books, films, art and historical artifacts being preserved and protected by the university.

This building — which now boasts the nickname “the ALF” — was constructed in 2002 to relieve the libraries from overcrowding, allow for continued acquisition and make way for community-building spaces. The excellent care it provided to the university’s book collections prompted a building addition opened in 2010 that provides space for storing additional types of collections, like the nearly 120,000 films in the IU Libraries’ Moving Image Archive. Now, one more addition to the ALF campus near the intersection of 10th Street and the 45/46 Bypass is set to open in 2018, accommodating storage and preservation of more film, textiles, art and other objects.


Each of the 3.9 million books stored in the ALF are found in IU Libraries’ catalog system, IUCAT. ALF staff fill requests six days a week and deliver to 19 locations across campus. Many requests are delivered the same day they are made.

“We fill about 200 requests for books each day we are in operation,” said Vaughn Nuest, head of ALF Services. “We do our best to make sure housing these books in an off-site location doesn’t hinder their accessibility.”

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.