“Oh, Johnny! I just love shelf paper”

Posted on February 13, 2012 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink.

It seems a little silly to gush about our shelves the way Lil Sheridan does in “Johnny Dangerously’” (a highly underappreciated movie starring Michael Keaton, 1984. I highly recommend adding it to your Netflix queue. http:///www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct6d1fADsbM&feature=related) but we are really delighted!

As you probably know from our blog posts this summer, we hit our maximum storage capacity in the archives in July when we brought in three large collections (National Council of Jewish Women, American Jewish Congress and Yeshivat Rambam).  When Hurricane Irene threatened to strike Baltimore we pulled the Yeshivat Rambam collection off the floor and put them on plastic tables, but we still did not have a permanent home for this material.

Don’t worry, you Nervous Nelly collections manager-types! The Collections Committee had serious conversations about whether the JMM was being irresponsible in accepting this much archival material when we knew that we didn’t have the capacity to house it. After weighing pros and cons, the Committee agreed that it would be worse to allow the archives to be tossed and lost forever, particularly when building expansion was being discussed. Further, there was enough space in storage room 2 to install an additional range of high density mobile storage. Our good friend (and former JMM archivist) Erin Titter from Storage Logic drew up plans for a new range of high density shelves for the basement and static shelves for the loading dock.

Funding from the France-Merrick Foundation for the Campus Master Plan and from Willard Hackerman for high density shelving could not have come at a better time. The tables were buckling from the weight of the boxes! (Sadly, I don’t have a picture. I guess I was afraid the table would collapse with me under it.)

Believe it or not, getting new shelves in the basement required us to thoroughly clear out the loading dock. We’d accumulated about ten years-worth of stuff—exhibition components, tools, program accessories, publications and packing materials—that needed to be weeded, sorted, stored, tossed or recycled.

That’s a lot of stuff to work our way through, fortunately many hands make light work, thanks to the Winterns.

We ordered a dumpster to handle a lot of the oversized materials.

There were multiple trips to the city dump to recycle outdated publications.  And then, against Avi’s protests, the perimeter of the board room was filled with boxes (labeled on all sides) of the materials we were keeping.

When the installation crew came on January 30th, you wouldn’t believe how clear the loading dock was!

I won’t bore you with a step by step explanation of how the shelves were installed since we photo documented everything:

First we installed shelves in the loading dock to hold our publications. No more skids of half open boxes for us!

Laying down and leveling the tracks for the mobile storage.

*Coming Soon to This Blog Post* [Grout] A short video of grouting the tracks into the floor. That stuff dries fast so the guys have less than 15 minutes from the time they mix it to the time it dries.

Drilling the ramp down.

A ramp with a gentle slope.

Gluing the ramp for the tiles.

Swirly glue—so tempting to stick your fingers in.

Frame work is going up.

And now for adding the shelves.

Here’s what the installed set looks like.

Jennifer places the first of the Yeshivat Rambam boxes on the shelf.

It didn’t take long to fill up the first carriage!

And if you think that was fun, wait until Jennifer and Rachel finish their time-lapse video of loading up the shelves. It’s pretty awesome.

Thanks again to Willard Hackerman for funding our collections storage project. We are truly grateful for your generosity.

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1 Comment

  1. Nicholas says:

    Very interesting piece, Jobi! Looks like a much-needed project well worth the time, money, and space. You guys will enjoy the appreciable increase in accessibility to your collection (like you said, no more half open boxes!) and perhaps find new uses for certain parts of the collection once inaccessible. Kudos on a job well done!

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