Shhh… our secret to a successful library move…

We recognise that each library is unique and has its own individual requirements, and therefore understand how critical it is to work closely with the designers, project managers and refurbishment companies, but also more importantly to understand the needs of the librarians. They know their library better than anyone else, and we take great care in listening and learning from them and then tailoring our services to meet their exact needs.


When undertaking Library Moves, detailed and delicate move plans need to be drawn up and followed. Great care must be taken when packing and transporting such valuable assets as well as the re-instating of the catalogue system at the new location. Specialised Movers’ staff are trained in the Dewey, and Congress classification systems and can undertake all the unpacking for you as well as undertaking the following services:

  • FREE Site Survey, FREE Quotation and as much FREE advice that we can possibly give to you
  • Developing a detailed move plan
  • Cataloguing stock (Books/Multimedia etc.)
  • Sequential packing and unpacking at destination
  • Interfiling and integration
  • Dismantling/erection of library shelving and existing library furniture and fittings
  • Crate hire for books, office equipment and special computer crates
  • Acid-free packing materials
  • Coloured identification labels
  • Nationwide and International service
  • IT decommissioning and recommissioning
  • Moving of specialist collections, artefacts, rare books, and fine art
  • Recycling and Re-Use of unwanted stock
  • Environmental disposal of unwanted media (in accordance with current EU Legislation/Directives) – (Specialised Movers are a licensed Waste Carrier)
  • Storage: We provide an Indoor containsised Storage System with the accreditation BSEN 14873
  • Specialist Storage – temperature controlled, secure storage environment to ensure zero degradation of materials in storage
  • 7 days a week service, including night-work

Case Studies

Walking to the new building, discussing the project

The Project:

Qatar National Library was looking for an experienced Library Specialist to carry out shelving services for their new National Library of Qatar for its move into its permanent home.

The work involved shelving, re-shelving and shelf reading; also, the moving of shelf library materials (brand new stock) from warehouses in Qatar to the new library building.

The shelving services included processing, sorting, shelving according to call numbers, move materials as necessary and perform specific collection support tasks.

The estimate at this stage was that there would be up to 752, 206 items to shelve during the contract period.

The Systems:

All items (book-stock) were to be arranged according to the classification schemes used by the library.

Qatar National Library uses the Library Congress Classification (LCC) for its General Non-Fiction Collections and the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) for its Children’s and Young Adult Non-Fiction collection.

Sample of LCC

The Library:

The National Library of Qatar was established by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and research and Community Development. The Library carries out its mission through three functions: National Library, University and Research Library, and a Metropolitan Public Library of the digital age.

The National Library function collects and provides access to global knowledge relevant to Qatar and the region. It also collects, preserves, and provides access to heritage contents about Qatar and the region. The University and research Library function support education and research at all levels by providing printed and digital library materials for students and researchers. The Metropolitan Public Library function delivers library services and information for everyone to enjoy reading, meet people and become information literate.

The Library is placed in Education City (in Doha). The building consists of 45,000 square metres and is constructed in one big hall with three main terraces.

Evening view down on the library / View of the library and Amphitheatre

An advanced sorting system using RFID-integrated with the Qatar National Library management system would help to take part of the collection up to the terraces and additional space for the other parts of the collection would be offered by compact shelving areas (rolling rack – able to accommodate over 1,000,000 items as stocks grow).

Basement Compact shelving / Basement book sorter with receiving bins / Upper floor level receiving carts

The Job:

An initial inspection/survey of the Library by Group General Manager Rob Townroe and Senior Project Manager Paul Simpson worked to the planned schedule of this job beginning in 3 months’ time. Whilst in Qatar, they were asked if this could be brought forward to start in the next 2 x weeks with a reduced figure of only 6,000 volumes (ONLY!) With a definite completion date allowing only 15 weeks including pre-installation planning, labeling and training of staff.

A method, programme and formula was produced by Paul to complete the installation within the dates given: Requiring a minimum of 8,000 volumes received, unpacked, sorted and shelved in sequential order.

The team created the processes required to get the stock on the shelves, using a local team of 25 operatives and endless trucks supplied by a company in Doha, Qatar.

In many ways the setting up of the processes and procedures for the move were similar to creating a type of manufacturing plant from scratch. The local operatives had to be trained in Library Classification systems and how to use the internal conveyor belt systems, and sorting machines. The local transport company had to get the stock to the library in a “Just-in-time” approach, relying on every part of the process working in synergy to make this whole process run smoothly, efficiently and to schedule.

Within 10 x days Specialised Movers Ltd. responded and deployed, a project management team to the Library.

The team consisted of a senior project manager Paul Simpson, Group Training Manager Sean Royle and several Move Managers. The duration of the project was to take place over 15 weeks, and credit to our team they prepared themselves to live in Doha, Qatar working on the project for the full term (albeit they were housed in 4/5* accommodation, provided with transport, and treated tremendously well by all parties associated with the National Library!).

In addition to all the external pressures of getting all parties to work together, there was the added pressures of daily book targets, Quality control and a Library Project Manager auditing and reporting on every aspect of the move.

Simply put, this is the National Library of Qatar, a hub of learning, the centre of education and possibly one of the most important buildings in the country of Qatar, with no books on shelves and a dead line date for completion!

Two weeks before the end of the of the scheduled move, all books were on shelves, in order and completed to a satisfaction rate of 99.9% (they weren’t allowed to give 100%!) with a daily shelving average of 8,890 volumes.

Our crew used the extra time for further quality controls and any additional works they could find to assist the Library Projects.

When Our Crew Returned:

They each expressed immense pride in their achievements, but also in being associated with such an important project.

Their time in Qatar was enriching, living in a different country and learning about different cultures, working with people from all over the world.

They loved the country, the food, and most of all the people.

Returning to the UK on a rainy afternoon, they still have smiles on their faces.

Paul our senior project manager (originally from Barnsley) said that it may be cold and wet, but it’s still better than a day temperature of 54 degrees, where even a swim in the sea is like taking a hot bath!

Phase 1: Library

Walking to the new building, discussing the project

Relocation of rare library stock from 1 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5DB to Priest Court, Grantham, NG31 7BG.

  • Stock removed from high level period storage system.
  • Wrap and pack library collection in sequential order, relocate to new location unpack, unwrap and re-shelve.

A layer of Plastazote™ foam or large-bubbled bubble-wrap in the bottom of each crate used, to reduce vibration:

  • Items with particular sensitivities required specially-made packing cases to give maximum protection against environmental changes and vibration during transit.

Books and bound archive material:

  • Rare books, loose archival material or bindings with torn or flaking covering wrapped in acid-free tissue, to prevent abrasion and loss of material, and to provide some cushioning during transit.
  •  Tissue-wrapped books, laid flat in bubble-wrap lined crates.
  • Once the crate is full, excess space packed out with bubble-wrap.
  • Books too large to fit into crates, individually wrapped first in acid free tissue and then in at least two layers of bubble-wrap and placed in open stacking trays.

Phase 2: Art & rare items from to store

Walking to the new building, discussing the project

Removal of art collection and rare artefacts.

  • 200 pictures and paintings individual wrapped, packed, inventoried and removed to store.
  • 40 Large rare portraits. (wall mounted).
  • Bessemer clock, base (marble) and statue (bronze lady) Dismantle to 6 components (approx. 9ft) to Individual bespoke cases/crates.
  • 2 x War Memorials (approx. 350/370kg).


  • Each item numbered, documented & photographed.
  • Individual bespoke cases/crates made.
  • Removal from walls (scaffold & lifting equipment).
  • Wrapped and cased/crated.
  • Transported to store facility.

Phase 3: Return/delivery to new location 297 Euston Road, London, NW1 3AQ

Walking to the new building, discussing the project

Returned on a call off basis (customer requesting individual items by number).

Many of the smaller pictures/paintings delivered to customer storage area.

Large rare portraits: re-hung and positioned to customers request throughout building.

  • Wall & celling fittings required.
  • Scaffold & lifting equipment.

War Memorials (370kg) required between 3rd/4th floor landing and wall mounted/fixed.

  • Stair climbing equipment required with lifting rig for final fix.

Bessemer clock, base (marble) and statue (bronze lady)

  • Returned, delivered tiled floor area, unpacked, rebuilt and positioned.
Walking to the new building, discussing the project

Summer 2011  -2014

Background & project overview:

The convergence of all Manchester university libraries into the Sir Kenneth Green Library (SKGL) on the All Saints Campus required considerable planning.

Project aim:

The Library Consolidation Project will result in the convergence of all Manchester libraries onto the All Saints campus by 2014.

To change the stock layout at the Sir Kenneth Green Library, All Saints in preparation for site library closures and stock integration over the subsequent three summers.

Work involved:

Stock required moving quickly and in sequence to minimise the amount of time for which it is unavailable to students.

The stock moves took place alongside the replacement and reconfiguration of shelving by the shelving supplier. The project required in-depth and fine planning and coordination between Specialised Movers Ltd and the shelving company.

The Library remained open throughout the summer of all phases (staff access for stock requests) but students were not allowed access to areas affected by stock and shelving moves.

The first requirement was for existing stock in the SKGL to be reorganised into a single, logical sequence in summer 2011, so that Aytoun stock can be accommodated and interfiled in summer 2012. The creation of a single class mark sequence was essential because there was no space to take the stock from the other site libraries. However, the process of moving all the stock within the SKGL is a complex one. In particular:

  • Phase 1: (summer 2011) The stock moves within the SKGL was a major undertaking involving the relocation of approximately 378,400 volumes, the moves took place during a very limited timeframe (13/14-week window), commencing when exams finish (w/e 27th May 2011) with completion by 31st August 2011.
  • Phase 2: (summer 2012) Aytoun campus library stock and IT suite relocated and integrated during July & August. Approx. 2935 linear metres of stock crated into temporary storage to facilitate the completion of replacement shelving. Approx. 40,000 volumes moved from Aytoun and integrated within 2935 linear metres of stock returned to new shelving.
  • Phase 3: (summer 2013) Hollings campus library integration. Smaller of the phased moves: BUT still an important piece of the jigsaw, requiring approx. 25,000 volumes relocated from Hollings campus and integrated throughout.
  • Phase 4: Library Consolidation Project which included: rearrange to 1 system throughout 3 floors with full integration of remaining 2 campus libraries.
  1. Elizabeth Gaskell Library Decant
  2. Didsbury Library Decant
  3. Dismantling, transport & re-installation of Didsbury’s shelving at SKGL
  4. Transport of spare shelving from Aytoun store to SKGL for reinstallation
  5. Relocation of Elizabeth Gaskell and Didsbury Library Services staff to the All Saints Building
  6. Refurbishment of the Fifth Floor at the SKGL (furniture to temp store).
    Phase 4, during a very limited timeframe (13/14-week window), commencing when exams finish (w/e 23rd May 2014) with completion by 31st August 2014. All three libraries – Elizabeth Gaskell, Didsbury and SKGL – will remain open throughout the summer. Specialised Movers required to liaise closely with MMU, Demco Interiors (shelving suppliers) and other contractors as necessary.
    Summary: Phase 4
    Specialised Movers Ltd: Approx. 19,000 crate movements throughout the project requiring a window of 11 weeks plus 1 week for office relocations and furniture movements.

Issues to overcome: Each year/Each phase:

Evaluate numbers/volume of library stock that required relocation.

Fully understand the customer requirements.
Meet with customer project team to understand & assist plan & deliver to new layout configuration.
Continuity was essential to maintain sequence and working relationship with customer project team, keeping abreast of any changes or issues arising daily.

Access issues:

  • Parking
    Park within allocated area allowing other contractors access.
  • Lift & corridors
    Using when less busy periods, minimise student/staff interface.
  • Protection
    Lifts & corridors
  • Library open 24 hours
    Using when less busy periods & make sterile working area to minimise student/staff interface.

Some questions our surveyor may ask as there are many variables in determining stock measurement:

  • Are books going from Shelf to Shelf? – variations in shelf size 750mm-900mm
  • Continuous sequence?
  • Oversized books
  • Reconfiguring?
  • Expansion or reductions
  • Triple-check: given linear measurement + book-stock number, then a shelf counting exercise by our surveyor

” Specialised Movers strive to excel in all aspects of our work and are the UK’s leading library removals company. We are not simply a removals company that relocates libraries, but a specialised library mover – with the flexibility to overcome any obstacle in relocation. We undertake library removals for the public sector, educational/academic sector (schools/colleges), and private and commercial libraries, and can provide a long list of extremely satisfied clients as testament to our high quality library relocations.”

Malcolm Stones: Library Mover and Team Leader (30 x years’ experience in library moving) Completing a Quality Control check on unpacked hanging files

Other types of library moving undertaken:

  • Hanging Files – recent examples include regular works for the NHS and X-Ray filing Systems
  • Blood/Tissue Samples – Refrigerated and frozen, to be kept at specific temperatures with little or no fluctuation
  • Gun Collections, Medal Collections – REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) Museum collection of over 175,000 items that were each individually tagged. Some items to go onto the Museum Display Floors/cabinets nd the rest to be archived in order…
  • Fine Art Collections and artefacts – Items.

Successful Library Relocations

  • National Library of Qatar – Doha, Qatar
  • Manchester Metropolitan University – Manchester
  • Salford University – Greater Manchester. Movement of in excess of a million book and journal stock, plus movement of all existing shelving and return of stock after fit-out. Paul Simpson, the Project Manager at Specialised Movers became a stakeholder manager detailing day-to-day migration of book stock and liaising with the client throughout the project.
  • Central St Martins College Library – London
  • Newbury Library – Newbury, West Berkshire. 1322m of book stock pack and store on site at Specialised Movers in Sheffield, return and replace after fit-out
  • Witney Library – Witney, Oxon
  • Brighton Library – Brighton, East Sussex
  • American University – London
  • Norwich Library – Norwich, Norfolk
  • Northampton Central – Northamptonshire. Movement of 1100m of book stock store on site, and return after fit out.
  • Kingston Hospital Library – Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Spurgeon College Library – Croydon, London. Movement of 3000m of book stock store, on site return and replace
  • Church Mission Society Library – South East Oxford
  • Roehampton Library – Wandsworth, London
  • Pershore College Library – Pershore, Worcestershire
  • University of Wales Library – Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales
  • The Geological Society – Picadilly, London
  • Kingsbury Library – Brent, London
  • Warwick University Library – London
  • New Cripps Library – Northamptonshire
  • Cardinal Pole School Library, Bracknell, Berkshire
  • Nottingham Trent University Library – Nottinghamshire. Movement of 5600m of book stock, return to Specialised Movers storage in Sheffield, then return to University
  • Pangbourne Children’s Library – Reading, West Berkshire. 475m of book stock packed and returned to Specialised Movers storage in Sheffield, then returned after fit-out
  • Aylesbury College Library – Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
  • Bracknell Library – Bracknell, Bracknell Forest of Berkshire, 400m of book stock from various locations centralised to one new purpose built hub
  • London College of Communication – London