Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Retrieving the book

One of the things I noticed on my recent tour of libraries was the dominance of closed collections. I was told that historically these old European libraries didn't have the space for open collections (closed stacks are much more economical of space) and thus have always had most of their collections requiring retrieval. As a result they have refined their mechanisms for doing so efficiently.

At Leiden University Library I saw this 'post office' type arrangement.


Clients would request their book(s) via the catalogue and minions would retrieve them from the stacks and send them upward using mechanical means. The inventory control system would allocate them to a pigeon hole according to number and size etc.

Clients would come along when ready and use their card and the screen to ask for their books and the right door pops open and at the same time the books are then lent to the client. If they are never collected then the books are returned to the shelves. Elegant solution to a particular way of working.


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