Today: McKeldin CLOSED

About the Severn Library



The Building

  • The building in which the Severn Library is located is a former printing facility for the Washington Post. It was purchased by the university to accommodate the space and storage needs of several university units, including the University Libraries.
  • The University Libraries will occupy about 21,000 square feet of the building (out of a total 324,000 square feet). (Interesting fact: we’ll share a loading dock with the School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies, which store sets in their storage area.)


The Collections

  • When full, the library will house approximately 1.25 million volumes and 40,000 archival boxes. It will provide essential space for the University Libraries, which cannot currently accommodate all library materials and provide programming and study space.
    • About half of the shelves will be devoted to Special Collections and Archives. 
    • About half of the shelves will be assigned to materials currently housed in McKeldin Library and the branch libraries.


High-Density Shelving

  • Collections are shelved in 30-foot-tall, high-density shelving. Staff will retrieve materials using an elevated work platform (“order picker”).
  • Materials are shelved by size and type rather than call-number classification.
  • The environment, designed for books and not the comfort of users, will help preserve the collections housed in the Severn Library and is kept between 50-55°F and 30-35% relative humidity. 
  • The facility is not open to users. Those interested in visiting must request a tour through your department.


The Timeline

  • The State Legislature approved funding in 2013. The building was prepared in 2015. Since October 3rd 2016, UMD Libraries materials held in offsite shelving have been available for request by library users.
  • Moving, inventorying and reshelving these materials at Severn Library took approximately six months. 



Materials are easily locatable.

  • Similar facilities around the country have proved the effectiveness of a sophisticated tracking system and inventory control. There is greater likelihood that the book you need will be on the shelf.
  • Simply: books are not lost or stolen.


Materials in Severn Library will be better preserved.

  • With more stable environmental conditions in a space designed for books and not the physical comfort of users, the materials do not suffer from harmful effects of heat, relative humidity, and exposure to light.
  • State-of-the-art fire suppression systems will minimize risk of fire damage. Rooms maintained at cold temperatures will preserve non-print media.
  • Because materials at Severn Library are only handled when a user requests them, they experience less wear and tear, thereby contributing to a longer life.


High-density shelving in Severn Library is better than compact shelving in McKeldin Library.

  • McKeldin cannot accommodate compact shelving on all of its floors, which studies indicate receive little use.
  • By working with faculty and students to assess the collections and highlight the most important and relevant works in McKeldin Library, the collections in McKeldin will be easier to browse.


Materials will be delivered faster.

  • Because Severn Library is much closer than the Johns Hopkins storage facility that we were using before, UMCP users will have their materials within 1-2 business days of requesting. Requests placed before midnight will arrive the following business day at the branch location of your choice.


See how one of our Big Ten peers does it.