Moving is no simple task. Whether you’re moving into your first college apartment from your parents’ house, or moving across the country with your spouse in search of new opportunities and careers. Moving is especially difficult when you’ve got a lot of stuff – whether you need to downsize, rent a storage unit, or start selling off items of dubious personal value, moving can be a struggle for your stuff as much as it is for you. When your stuff is over 12,000 records boxes on nearly 300 pallets, moving is less a struggle and more a logistical nightmare.
This past summer, George Mason’s Records Management team, with some substantial aid from the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), the Facilities Management, and Interstate Movers staff shifted the entire University Records Management (URM) inventory from one side of the Facilities Warehouse to the other. The project first involved careful, coordinated, and collaborative planning on the part of URM and Mason’s Facilities Administration. The goal was to provide URM with a substantial increase of storage capacity (to account for the University’s growth at large) without a substantial increase in footprint. The resultant plans saw the University’s Records Center increase its capacity to serve the records keeping need of the University, using existing space.
While the planning aspect of the warehouse move is worthy of its own article, the physical task of prepping the entire inventory of the Records Center was a feat in and of itself. The nearly 300 pallets, each containing either 32 (for pallets on shelves) or 40 (ground-pallets) boxes, first needed to be shored up if damaged, then wrapped in plastic sheeting, and finally staged so as to facilitate rapid and efficient moving. On top of this, after planning and revising plans, touring the warehouse with potential contractors, calling for contractor bids and accepting bids, the renovation was set to proceed in the last week of July. July is, as most Virginians are aware, possibly the hottest, most humid month of the year. The task of prepping the URC for move, thus, was a scorching, exhausting affair.
Beginning in early July, the University Records Center was officially closed to any new influx of records. Once all outstanding pick-ups were received, the process of wrapping pallets began. Two weeks before the beginning if the move, the URM team began bringing down twelve pallets at a time, staging them for inspection, fixing any issues (such as broken or sagging boxes, replacing pallets, and reattaching labels) and wrapping them top to bottom in plastic wrap. The entire process per pallet took one person nearly a half hour on average, with the support of the SCRC team, that time was cut down to minutes. On average, a team of four could fix, wrap, and replace on the shelf thirty-six or more pallets in a day despite 90° heat and humidity. We in University Records Management simply could not have accomplished this feat without the steadfast support and aid of the SCRC or the Facilities staff.