First Look

Hidden Wisdom

The Libraries Annex is out of sight, but there when you need it

By Michael Flatt | Photograph by Douglas Levere


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Just a few minutes away from UB’s North Campus, at the end of a residential cul-de-sac, stands a large, unassuming, beige-and-white building. This is the Libraries Annex, a 16,000-square-foot, high-density storage facility where the libraries keep more than 1 million books that have been moved off campus. Fun fact: If you put all the books in UB’s library collections on a single shelf, they would stretch from Buffalo to Rochester. That means that some less frequently used but still valuable books and journals need to be housed in the annex, where they are sorted by height and width—rather than by call number or subject and author—and shelved accordingly to save space. In other words, a book on “Paradise Lost” might go right next to one on wood products engineering. Workers use an industrial lift to retrieve titles requested by UB students and faculty from shelves that stand three stories high, and can deliver to any campus library or office within one business day. Think of the annex as the UB version of Amazon Prime, but without the monthly fee.