Page T2.1 . 19 April 2006                     
ArchitectureWeek - Tools Department
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Library Technics

by Evan H. Shu, FAIA

Over the last few years, a significant change has occurred in the design of libraries, the result of changing needs, newly available services, and rapidly developing technologies.

For instance, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is used for automatic sorting and retrieval systems (ASRS). Modern library equipment will now log a book in and send it to its proper sorting bin for reshelving.

RFID tags on books allow library patrons to go to self-service checkout stations and free up staff for other tasks. It has been shown that when such stations are accessible, 90 percent of users opt to use them rather than go through a librarian. In some libraries, materials which have been put on hold can be automatically retrieved by the user by simply waving their library card (or often now a keychain tag) in front of a retrieval station scanner.

This same RFID tagging technology is used to track the popularity of individual titles to inform the library staff of what books deserve prime shelving space and what books may be put in back storage. The library is now mimicking the retail model of tracking customer preferences and making sure those materials are front and center.   >>>

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Automated book check out/ check systems coordinate with overhead book moving equipment at the Seattle Public Library by Rem Koolhaas.
Photo: David Owen

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The Seattle Public Library by Rem Koolhaas houses new technologies.
Photo: David Owen


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