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UCLA Cataloguing, Acquisitions, and Metadata

“The news of the death of libraries has been greatly exaggerated.”


The UCLA Library System is home to over 11 million volumes of books, publications and data. Stenfors Architects was commissioned for several Library projects in 2016. Their history with UCLA Library projects dates back to the design of the Young Research Library Project in 2006 and seismic renovation for the Clark Library in 2009.


In 2016, the Geffen Academy project triggered UCLA to quickly relocate many critical UCLA Library programs from the Kinross Buildings. Analogous to the Matrix, a UCLA student studying in a Powell carrel would have to take the red pill to experience the behind the scenes maneuverings that operate the library system.


These behind the scenes library programs comprise structured services dedicated to the timely flow of new and preserved library information. As one can surmise in our digital age, the librarians and conservators acquire, restore and catalog the information in a cornucopia of types and forms. The objects can be literally anything from the donated archives of dignitaries to the latest trend on the Blockchain.


As a result of an earlier relocation project whereby portions of the existing Life Sciences Building (LSB) were moved to the new Terasaki building, space was made available for the library.


The existing LSB structure was built of concrete and housed many of the Life Sciences labs and teaching spaces. Other than the typical issues with ADA access and the abatement of materials, the LSB was ideally suited to the conservation space needs and activities. The 1960’s vintage structure required minor structural modification to install a new accessible ramp and materials lift due to existing level changes. Fortunately, the structural capacity was verified to support the massive concentrated weights of books, storage, and heavy equipment.

Type: Institutional, Library

Programming and Renovation: 14500 SF
Architecture: Stenfors Architects

MEP Engineers: tk1sc collaborative

Structural Engineer: KPFF

Cost Estimator: C.P. O'Halloran

Status: Built

Level 1 Axonometric Plan

Cataloguing and Acquisitions

Level 2 Axonometric Plan


Acquisitions, Cataloguing and Metadata were identified as the three main functional aspects. Acquisitions is where all new materials that are taken in by the library into their collection arrive, and are sorted by media type and processed, whether through purchase, gift, or endowment. Acquisitions act as the intake hub and point of processing.

Cataloguing is, after Acquisitions, the next step in the chain of distribution for materials. Once sorted properly in Acquisitions, materials, be they periodicals, books, or other forms of publication, are catalogued for further processing and distribution. From here materials can be distributed to their final destination, be it Metadata for electronic media, the Conservation Lab for restoration or other locations within the library system.

Level 1 Shaft Enclosure and Organizer

Level 1 Circulation

And Metadata is the processing of electronic publications and property.

The existing LSB was not sufficient for all the functions to be on one level.  Working with the Library staff, we developed an understanding of operations and workflow to program and design the flow from material acquisition, processing, cataloguing and redistribution.     

The previous CAM space was too compartmentalized, the new space was developed to be bright & open with flexible work stations and clearly defined storage areas.  Daylight from the existing windows was carefully harvested through via sightlines between workstations.

Architecturally, the space is delimited by free plan wall and overhead elements to orchestrate and define staging areas to choreograph the vast amount of material in process. These elements were referred to as the ‘organizers”. These organizers not only define circulation, but also demark staging points for the hundreds of book carts and shelving units.

Efficient LED lighting is arrayed linearly throughout the open plan space. Exposed ceilings and utilities are painted white to increase visual acuity. Dropped ceilings acoustically conceal mechanical equipment and provide intimate workspace.  The space is predominantly white, however, to provide circulation landmarks, existing mechanical rooms and shafts through the space were painted orange.

Level 1 Storage and Managerial Office

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