Library Blog

Closed Stack is for books, not cakes

Sunday, April 3, 2022

You know all about our open stacks that members are welcome to browse, full of books ready to check out. Did you know that we also have a closed stack, open only to staff? In this aptly named Closed Stack, we house ten percent of our collection, in compact rolling shelving to make the most of this subterranean space to hold around 30,000 items. 

As a collecting institution, we have materials that range from unique rare materials to 2022’s newest books and everything in between. This in-between is what is held in Closed Stack. Some materials are in Closed Stack because of their condition and require special housing. Some materials are too large for any other shelves in the building, so specially-built shelving was created to hold 1000 linear feet of materials lying flat. Some materials hold special signatures or item-specific rarities that must be kept intact. This variety of materials is what makes Closed Stack interesting!

We have been embarking on a long-term project to inventory all 30,000 volumes housed in Closed Stack, to ensure the dependability of our collection and catalog and to prepare for future building changes. This project has included many staff hours spent among the books. To celebrate a major milestone of 50% completion, and to thank Simen Kot and Cullen Gallagher for their hard work, I baked a cake to resemble a typical book from Closed Stack. Following are instructions to make your own Closed Stack book cake.

Because Closed Stack holds aging books, the materials used in the binding age too, like the leather covers, which disintegrate with red rot. To get the red rot effect on the cake, use ample cocoa powder to dust the covers. The structure of older books tends to weaken with time, as well, often resulting in a detached spine and boards. The boards on this cake are made of gingerbread cookie and are completely separate from the cake sponge representing the book’s text block. As a result of this detachment, one needs to use book tie, a cotton band used to secure together the boards, spine and text block. For a special surprise, use a confetti batter, which will expose the sprinkles dotted throughout the cake when sliced. This effect evokes the scattered bits of foxing present in older papers used in these bindings. 

If you ever find a book in our catalog that identifies a location of Closed Stack, ask at the Circulation Desk. Just be sure it’s not a cake. 

Can you identify which book below is a cake and which is a book in our Closed Stack collection?

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