Every day, every hour, a bustling life goes on behind the scenes at Princeton. Many of the 13,700 people who live or work at the University hardly notice these essential operations unless something goes wrong. This unseen Princeton often is a world of strenuous work, fast paces, and very early rising.
Some say this is the future of libraries — gargantuan, shared regional warehouses like this one on Forrestal Campus, home to nearly 10 million items from Princeton and other prestigious institutions. No browsing allowed: Forklifts shuttle up and down ReCAP’s 34 aisles (soon to increase to 58), where books are packed closely together by size, not subject matter, and shelving soars to 30 feet. The 11 workers wear jackets and hats, as they work in rooms maintained at 55 degrees Fahrenheit, optimal for paper. Some books never see Firestone at all: Publishers send them directly to ReCAP, from where they can be retrieved when requested. The name stands for: Research Collections and Preservation Consortium.