Denver Public Library Rearranges their Archive Spaces using Lean Principles

Denver Public Library’s Western History Department has a world-class collection that has grown over the years. The archives staff who work on preserving, describing and making these historic materials accessible found themselves squeezed into a very uncomfortable and impractical workspace. Staff had to spend valuable work time walking to other areas to access their records and tools.

When the department was ready for a remodel, Lean Principles were implemented to improve workflow. For the redesign, ample space was made for the accession file cabinets just steps from the archivists and collection assistants’ new workstations. They also planned for construction of a separate preservation lab work room just steps away from the archivists’ work stations.

With those two changes, the department made a significant improvement in their workflow as well as getting the following results:

  • Annual soft cost savings of about $3,100 for staff transportation waste
  • Archivists can easily access files multiple times a week to consult donor and collection information
  • Staff and volunteers can also file important Deeds of Gift and loan paperwork easily into files, resulting in better collection management
  • The closer proximity of lab equipment allows for better care of the collection by promoting efficient use of supplies
  • It mitigates accidents due to water spillage and mold growth
  • Western History archivists are now able to preserve more unique and special historical materials about the region’s history and heritage

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