Crazy Smart / Library Service Center

Crazy Smart Library Service CenterMost Duke students and faculty never see the Library Service Center.

Tucked away in an industrial park a few miles south of downtown Durham, it might look like just another warehouse. But inside, a massive steel door rolls back to reveal the biggest bookshelves you’ve ever seen. Each one is three stories tall and almost as long as a football field. Aisles and aisles of densely packed volumes seem to go on — and up — forever.

The air here is kept at a constant 50 degrees with 30 percent humidity — ideal conditions for preserving books and paper. And the Library Service Center houses a lot of books and paper.

The facility holds more than 4 million books, documents and archival materials belonging to Duke and the library systems of UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State and N.C. Central. (Although Duke manages and staffs the Library Service Center, it is financially supported by all four institutions — yet another example of how the Triangle’s great universities cooperate as much as they compete.)

But the Library Service Center is more than a glorified storage depot. It’s a state-of-the-art, high-density repository designed to extend the life of printed materials by 50 years or more.

Because in the library world, as in the real one, the best view is always the long view. When your mission is to collect, organize and preserve the world’s knowledge for future generations, the long view isn’t just a matter of perspective. It’s what guides everything you do.

That’s not just smart. That’s crazy smart. Take the long view. Support Duke University Libraries.

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