May 16, 2022

Report: “Arizona State University Library’s High Density Collection: Where Books Go to Outlive You”

From The State Press (Student Newspaper at ASU):

Like something out of a sci-fi novel, Arizona State University’s High Density Collection holds within its bunkers 1.6 million books.


The HDC facility on the Polytechnic campus is home to books from all seven libraries across the University’s four campuses.

Mark Prestegard, the manager of the facility, said the room[Clip]s are called “modules,” which are 150 feet by 30 feet and can house about two million books. Each side of the aisle is considered a “range.” The building has ten ranges stacked with shelves of different sizes for the sundry of potential sizes of books to come.

The HDC ecently received about 300,000 books from the Hayden and Noble libraries due to the in-progress renovations at Hayden.


Once the books arrive, 20 student workers and about a dozen staff enter the books into databases and stick a marking unique to the HDC called an S-barcode.

Libraries previously used a call number to identify the location of a book. Now, you can identify the module, range, shelf and exact position of the book just by the numbers on the S-barcode.

It’s as easy as that.

“We process about 35,000 books each month,” Prestegard said.

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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.