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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shelving systems

There is an explanation for the strange way of putting the books on the shelves from the bottom and up. In the old days (1670s) the library was housed in a small building with very limited space. To be able to keep all the books there, they divided the collection into sections according to the sizes of the books. The books were placed on the lowest shelf and then the next shelf was placed as close to the row of books as possible. Three rows of the smallest books (the size is called duodes) could be fitted into the same space as one row of folio format books. So the system of keeping the books that way saved space. Nowadays we have octavo, folio and oversize formats. We no longer place the books in subject sections in the stacks either. Each book gets a unique call number instead.

Yesterday I went with four colleagues to Denmark to look at shelving systems for the new remote storage we will get in a couple of years. It requires some shopping around before deciding where to buy 40 000 meters of shelves. The company we visited is one of two possible suppliers in Europe. The other one is in Holland (I don't think we will get to visit that place also). We were picked up by the president of the Swedish sales office and were brought to a branch library of the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen. They had recently installed this electronic compact shelving system that we are thinking of buying. It seemed to work pretty well. We have some old (1992) shelves that function very badly, but the company representatives promised they had made considerable improvements since then. We also visited the factory outside Roskilde where they make the shelves. We started with a very delicious lunch, a typical Danish smorgasbord. It was herring, salmon, paté, steak and fried fish with remoulade sauce, served with rye bread. Marvelous food. We toured the factory and were impressed by the old machines that were still used. They bought most of the steel from Sweden, and they made sure to tell us that. Since we have several different types of electronic systems like this already and have knowledge of all the problems associated with them, we put pressure on the staff by asking a lot of questions. It seems to be a flexible system that can be both adjusted and repaired in a better way than the old ones we have. After the company presentation and sales talk, we were brought to a fancy restaurant in Copenhagen and treated to yet another tasty meal. We were tired when we got back to Lund at about 9 in the evening, but it had been a very interesting day in Denmark.

1 comment:

Anette said...

Åhh, den som ändå fick åka på en mutresa....