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Movers let book times roll.

Byline: JOE MOSLEY The Register-Guard

The big day was just another day for Michael Dick and his crew.

Books out, books in. Left to right, top to bottom; shelf to cart and then cart to shelf. The periodicals and reference materials go first, adult fiction somewhere down the road.

The momentous occasion of the Eugene Public Library's relocation began Monday morning with the precision of a lawn chair drill team in the Eugene Celebration parade.

"We've done everything from 2 1/2 million books to 20,000 books, so in terms of size, this is right in the middle," said Dick, West Coast manager for a company whose name says it all: National Library Relocations.

The New York-based firm has moved about 120 libraries into new homes this year alone, with Dick traveling from his Los Angeles headquarters to supervise about 65 of them.

"In terms of aesthetics, this is number one," he said, taking a break from pushing carts full of magazines through the new library's nonfiction area - with its two-story, west-facing windows - and passing them off to a shelving crew working in the periodicals room.

"It's the most beautiful library I've seen," Dick said.

He heads a group of four full-time library movers supervising the transfer of about 300,000 materials - primarily books, CDs and videotapes - from the old library to its prodigious new $32.4 million home on 10th Avenue three blocks away. On top of that, workers will also move another 50,000 materials from their temporary storage spot on the second floor of the former Sears building.

About 20 temporary workers hired through the local Manpower Inc. office are doing the heavy lifting, loading double-sided rolling carts with materials at the old library and unloading them on the new building's shelves.

The temps received training Saturday - learning the color-coded system for moving various categories of books - and appeared pretty well up to speed by mid-morning Monday.

"We try to make things real simple," Dick said. "If you can differentiate colors and know how to count, you can do this. We try to make it that basic."

But it's also well-coordinated, with four crews working on the move - members of each split between the old and new libraries. Those at the old library unshelve books and load them onto labeled carts, then their counterparts wheel the loaded carts to designated areas of the new library and reshelve the materials.

Two rented moving trucks are being used in the operation, but just one driver - an empty truck stays at the old library to be filled while a full truck goes to the new library and gets unloaded, then the empty truck goes back and the process repeats.

"It is interesting," said Mike Miller, one of the temporary employees assigned to the de-shelving operation at the old library. "It's up to us to make sure we get them in order.

"But we're limited to how fast we can go - there are only about 60 of these double-sided carts, and we can load them faster than they can take them off (at the new library)."

Miller and his colleagues on the temp crew have been told their jobs will last through Sunday - seven straight days, about 10 hours per day.

"Since they come in and hire local labor, there is a learning curve," said Rob Everett, principal librarian at Eugene's main branch and the city's supervisor in the move. "But they do things so systematically.

"National Library Relocations does national library relocations," Everett said. "They immediately understand what you're talking about - you can use all the library lingo you want."

A committee of library staff chose the company based on expertise, credentials, references and price from seven moving company bids. The $52,000 bid covers the transfer of books and other materials from the old library and the Sears building, as well as subcontracting costs to have another moving company move furniture and office equipment from both the old library and offices in the Atrium Building that have been used in recent years by central staff of the city's Library, Recreation & Cultural Services Department.

"We sent (the request for bids) to every local vendor we could think of," Everett said. "The national vendors, they catch wind of it."

It didn't hurt that Multnomah County's librarian had high praise for recent work in Portland by the company that eventually won the Eugene contract.

"If you have a good reputation, it carries a lot of weight," said Dick, the moving company's manager on the Eugene job. "We have a nice problem - we haven't really had to solicit business the last couple years."

But that also means a tight schedule for Dick, with jobs up and down the West Coast that often overlap. His company finished two jobs in California just before taking on the Eugene project, and had a couple more scheduled for immediately afterward until the company decided to take a holiday break and push the next jobs into 2003.

"I haven't had a vacation in over three years, so it does get a little tiring," says Dick, who has worked seven years for his current company and has been in the library-moving niche for about 15 years.

He got his start by working summers for a furniture-moving company. He was eventually assigned to a library project, and wound up making it his specialty.

"And I have a degree in biochemistry, which really fits right in," he quipped.

MOVING BY THE NUMBERS

Walking distance: The move is three blocks to the north, from Eugene's old library on 13th Avenue to the new one on 10th.

Shelf miles: At the old library, about 16,000 linear feet of bookshelves were filled to capacity. At the new library, the shelves are expected to be somewhere between half and three-quarters full after workers move in 300,000 materials from the old library and another 50,000 in storage. The math suggests that's somewhere between 28,005 and 37,340 linear feet of shelves at the new library - 5 to 7 miles worth.

Many hands: Four full-time staffers from National Library Relocations are coordinating the move, with about 20 locally hired temporary employees doing most of the hands-on work. The city's library staff is overseeing the project, standing by to answer questions or make suggestions.

CAPTION(S):

Mike Miller (left) and Guy Dominique organize books on carts so they can be by truck to the new library. Mike McKerrow donated his lunch hour Monday to help assemble and dust shelves in the new Eugene library.
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Title Annotation:Transport: About 350,000 materials will be carted to the Eugene library's new address.; Government
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 10, 2002
Words:1091
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