University of Memphis law books head to school's new Downtown building

Photo by Brad Luttrell

Frank Stucenski catalogs books in the new University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law on Front Street on Tuesday. Stucenski works for American Interfile and Library Movement Service. Employees said it should take around two or 2 weeks to relocate all of the law books into the building.


It's been 18 months in the mapping, measuring, color coding and other planning, but moving day for the University of Memphis Law Library is finally here.


Actually, that would be "moving days" since it involves relocating some 200,000 books -- nearly 5 miles of books and materials in all -- to the law school's new Downtown building on Front Street.


"The physical move is really just the tip of the iceberg," said law library director D. R. Jones, an associate dean for Information Resources and assistant law professor. "It's really just the culmination of the planning that we've done and hiring a company that specializes in the moving of libraries. It's going very well and very quickly."


Movers began Tuesday and aim to have the job completed by next Saturday, well before Jan. 11. That's the date when the school's 400-plus students and 50 faculty members move into what was once home of the U.S. Customs House, Court House and Post Office.


A $42-million renovation has turned the aging building into a state-of-the art law school that, at 140,000 square feet, is more than twice the size of the old school.


The plan has been to coordinate the


library move with the schedules of both the construction crews and the law students.


"We're in exams now, so they're not really using the library materials," said Jones, who spearheaded a similar move when she was at Case Western Reserve School of Law in Cleveland. "We have isolated one area of the library and I'm sending out e-mails every day to let them know what's moving and when: This is the area that's noisy; this is the good area to go study. So far, we're doing fine."


She also enlisted the help of architecture student Robert Paulus, who was working in the law library and agreed to help with measuring and drawing up detailed floor plans in advance of the move.


"I couldn't have picked a better person," she said. "He's been very valuable."


American Interfile of Bay Shore, N.Y., one of only about a half dozen companies that specializes in library relocation, was the low bidder at $45,000. The company has 14 workers, 100 carts and two trucks involved in the moving project.


"It's like a carousel, moving from one building to another," said company president Gary Hall, who has moved some 2,000 libraries over the last 36 years. "We're on schedule. God willing and the creek don't rise, we'll be finished by Dec. 12."


There was some rain this week, but that didn't bother the movers or the move, he said.


"We protect the materials, but we get wet and keep on working," said Hall, who plans beyond Murphy's Law that if something can go wrong it will go wrong. "We subscribe to O'Toole's Rule, and that is: 'Murphy was an optimist.'"


-- Lawrence Buser: 529-2385