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last updated: 8/3/2009


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the ALF

How do I request an ALF item?

ALF materials may be requested via IUCAT (the IU Libraries' online catalog).  Simply find the material in IUCAT and click on the "Request this item" link directly following the listing.  You will be asked to provide some information, including the destination to which you would like the material delivered. 

How fast can I get a book or journal from the ALF?

Usually within 24 hours and often the same day.  Materials requested prior to 12:00 p.m. (noon), Monday through Saturday will be available from your selected Bloomington library delivery destination by 5:00 p.m. the same evening.  Materials requested after 12:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, will be available from your selected Bloomington library delivery destination by 5:00 p.m. the following business day.

Where can I have ALF materials delivered?

Most ALF materials may be requested for use at almost any of the libraries in the IU system.  Some materials have restricted use, and may only be delivered to specific destinations.  A list of all possible delivery destinations for each item is presented when you request an item.  For additional information please visit our Circulation Policies page.

May I use materials onsite at the ALF building?

The ALF is a secure, locked facility with no public visitation hours. It lacks many of the public services (including photocopiers) available at most of the libraries on campus. However, onsite use of materials may be possible through special arrangement. To inquire, please contact Vaughn Nuest at or 855-0832.

Why move books from the Wells Library research collections?

You’ve noticed how books crowd the stacks and fill overflow book carts in the aisles.  Too many books in too small a space makes it difficult to locate them, jeopardizes their condition, and takes up space originally intended for student and faculty study and research.

The Herman B Wells Library reached its capacity for books in 1989.  Designed to hold 1.5 million volumes, it now contains more than double that—and the collection grows by about 100,000 volumes a year.

Why an off-site facility? 

An off-site shelving facility makes good economic sense.  Faced with space shortages and no funds for new buildings, other major research institutions have done the same.  (Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, Duke, Harvard, Yale, and Cornell, to name a few.)  
The Ruth Lilly Auxiliary Library Facility also has optimal environmental conditions (it’s kept at a constant 50 degrees and 30 percent relative humidity) and therefore also helps preserve the materials shelved there.  Keeping materials in the ALF extends their lifespans.

How many volumes will the ALF hold?

Depending on the size and type of materials selected for transfer, the ALF will hold up to 2.8 million items.

What kinds of materials are shelved in the ALF?

Most media types of lower-use materials, old and/or fragile materials, archival materials, and materials available online are all good candidates for ALF relocation.

Who is selecting the materials to transfer?

The subject and area librarians who serve the IU Bloomington campus are responsible for transfer decisions.  For more details on the selection guidelines, see: ?pageId=1997.

What can I expect in the future?

Managing millions of books is a complex and long-term undertaking.  As we continue to add new materials to our collections, we must necessarily continue to transfer materials from the Bloomington campus libraries.

As these transfers occur, we will shift materials in the Wells Library and campus libraries to free up appropriate space.  During these transitional shifts, shelves will not always be as neat and tidy as we would like.  We are confident, however, that materials will be easier to find, better preserved, and readily accessible. 

Whom do I contact if I have additional questions about the ALF?

For questions about the ALF selection process you may contact your collection manager or Julie Bobay, Associate Dean for Collection Development and Digital Publishing  (  For questions regarding the actual facility and services of the ALF, please contact Vaughn Nuest, Head, Auxiliary Library Facilities Management Services (

Revised September 2006

last updated: 8/3/2009