More than you'll ever need to know about the ARC
In the current phase of the Library Addition and Renovation Project, those books which have circulated or which have been used within the Library between one and three times since 1991 will be kept in the ARC. Designed originally for commercial warehouse use, the ARC stores thousands of materials in a much smaller space than regular shelving and thus is much more cost efficient. Long term it will be used for storing seldom needed materials. But in the immediate future all Library materials must be taken out of the current building for asbestos removal, and there isn’t room for everything in the addition space. There is room in the addition for the most heavily used books only, so for now, books used sometimes but not often will be kept in the ARC. See photos of what it looks like.
In the parlance of the company which makes the system, retrievals are “picks.” There are two picking machines and four aisles of bins. The machines run on rails which look much like smaller versions of railroad tracks. To load a book in the ARC, the first thing to do is to call one of the two picking machines to bring an empty or partially full bin. They are guided to the correct bin by a laser beam which reflects off a grid at the end of the aisle. As the bins are loaded, Library staff divide them into quadrants. After scanning the bar code number, the staff member indicates to the system which quadrant the item will be placed in. The system retains the bar code number which links it to the catalog record, the bin number, and the quadrant so that the next time the book is needed the picking machine will know which bin to bring out. The staff member then uses the quadrant to make finding the book within the bin easier. Another library-wide project recently completed was to write the last three digits of the books’ bar code number on the top of each book to go in the ARC. Knowing which quadrant the book is in helps the retriever focus on an area, then looking for the right three digits makes finding the book precise.
When the addition is open to the public, patrons can watch the retrieval machinery in action. Large windows looking into the ARC were included in the third floor plans at the Library’s request.
Although anathema to librarians in most circumstance, the materials are in no order within the bins except in rare cases. Bins are configured to hold materials of a specific height, but other than that, the materials have no relationship to each other.
Books which have not circulated or been used even once since 1991 will be stored in the Warehouse, the former Winn-Dixie grocery store building. While the ARC loading project has been going on for over two weeks, the move of materials to the Warehouse has just begun. If Warehouse materials are requested by patrons, Library staff will bring them back to the Library once daily as part of the regular Henderson Library courier service between units of the Library.
In order to make the sorting of the books by number of checkouts go quickly, Library faculty and staff began working on a color coding project back in January. David Lowder, Systems Librarian, ran the circulation reports. Group A, the Committee charged with planning the move, is chaired by Iris Durden and Cynthia Frost, with assistance by Debra Skinner. They arrived at this ingenious scheme. All books with 1-3 uses (those designated for the ARC) were marked with a red dot on the call number. Those which had more than 3 uses were marked with a black dot on the call number. These black dotted books will be on open shelves in the addition for the public to browse. Those with no dots are destined for the Warehouse.
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Last updated 7/12/06.