Case Study: Library of Congress (LOC)

07/21/23

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84,000 Boxes of Treasured Historical Archives Demands Zero Loss. Interstate Logistics Delivered.

Case Study: Library of Congress (LOC), one of the world’s largest and oldest libraries collects and maintains records, books, articles, and other artifacts worldwide. This unparalleled resource contains hundreds of millions of items in hundreds of languages including rare book collections, films, music, and maps. It also holds patent and copyright information records, including some objects.

The Challenge

The documents and articles in archival storage are unreplaceable and vital to preserving history. Any movement of these materials requires extreme caution and great attention to detail.

Because of its declining condition and age, the Library of Congress elected to relocate its materials from several locations to new facilities. In its totality, the move was phased over two years and managed department by department. One such department, an archival warehouse in Landover, MD, and its articles needed to be moved including books, papers, recorded media, and unique items of varying shapes and sizes. The move, consisting of 84,000 boxes and other articles, needed to be completed within twelve weeks.

For this no-fail move, the library also required that items be accessible to library personnel within two hours of a request and perform the operation at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Solution

A move of this scale and importance demanded a professionally designed plan in consultation with the library. The move was scheduled to match the library’s archival schedule so as not to interrupt Library of Congress operations.

Additionally, the movement of delicate items requires an experienced team of security-cleared personnel, a high degree of confidence in vehicle operation, and careful packing of various shapes, sizes, and weights. A unique solution for cataloging and chain of custody was required to ensure library personnel had access to items during the operation.

Because of the intricacies involved and the need to access information at a moment’s notice, a single point of accountability was an essential component of the solution.

The move required a commitment to adhering to the ever-shifting COVID-19 health protocols and adapting as guidance changed.

The Approach

The experienced Interstate Logistics team was the logical choice for the Library of Congress’s intricate move. Not only does Interstate Logistics have almost eighty years of experience with activities across town, from coast to coast, and around the world, but their expertise in unique, irreplaceable, and complicated moves made them the ideal choice. Well known for its paramount accountability, Interstate Logistics managed and staffed the project with its own experienced Interstate Logistics personnel.

For the library’s move, Interstate Logistics assembled a team for a collaborative discussion before developing a comprehensive plan that cared for the project’s unique requirements. The plan called for daily shifts managed during business hours only. Twenty people were assigned to each shift operating three trucks.

The project was executed over three months and moved items from a 50,000-square-foot warehouse. Many items, due to their unique size, were carefully packaged. Documents were cataloged for easy access, inventoried down to each skid, manifested, and moved to precise locations on shelves to preserve the library’s cataloging system at their new high-security site.

A new labeling system was devised for this project to ensure all items were accounted for and placed in the correct location, down to the shelve, at the new facility. The cataloging and labeling system also ensured that materials were easily retrievable for library personnel within the required two-hour window. A detailed project plan representing the day’s moves was prepared and submitted daily to keep the library informed.

As security was a prime concern for the move, Interstate Logistics coordinated the transportation with capital police and followed precise security measures, including managing detailed manifests, sealing vehicles before departure, and requiring all Interstate Logistics personnel involved in the project to be background checked, fingerprinted, and badged.

The Outcome

The project was completed 100% on time and within budget. There was no loss as the Interstate Logistics team moved 84,000 boxes over three months. The labeling process invented for the Library of Congress move remains in use by the library to this date.

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