Automated Retrieval System


I tried to get some pictures yesterday and I did a great job of getting pictures of people who were around the library yesterday. I also wanted to get a picture of the SCU Library’s new Automated Retrieval System. An ARS is a large building in which books are stored. There are no stories. The books are stored in bins and they are stacked on top of each other on shelves. Automatic cranes retrieve books as they are called in the library catalog.

I hadn’t seen this in action yet, so I went back there this week to see how it works. It’s actually quite amazing. The cranes zip through really quickly and grab the bin from it’s place, zoom it to the front, and then a student assistant picks the desired book from the bin. It all only takes about 30 seconds.

An interesting thing about it is that there is no rhyme or reason to the order in which the books are placed in the bins, as long as the computer knows where it is so that it can be retrieved. This got me to thinking about the usefulness of Call Numbers in the future. If things move toward this kind of retrieval system, Call Numbers, I believe, could be a thing of the past. They could serve a purpose, I supposed, as a browsing tool in the library catalog. But it’s kind of a clunky way of browsing books.

It’s kind of sad in a way. There is a lot of serendipity that goes on when one is browsing the books stacks. Books tend to jump out at you in ways that are not possible when you merely search the computer.

But at the same time, the new technology is very exciting and interesting.

Weird. I was going to blog about my last day at work but I went on about the ARS instead. Oh well. I’ll tell you about my day tommorrow.