Monday, February 1, 2010

Don't Fear the Shelving

Level 1 contains the majority of the library’s 600,000 volumes, due to our compact shelving system. This system allows us to store twice as much material in a space by requiring users to move rows of shelves in order to access needed materials. Although the rows may feel like a tight squeeze to the claustrophobic, “smart floors” with weight sensors ensure that no overly-competitive 1L could squash a fellow student between the shelves.

It’s not a perfect system, as library users may have discovered recently. The sensitive “smart floor” is designed to lock the movable shelves if it detects any weight on the area between two rows. This includes the weight of a person, the weight of a fallen book, or—as it turns out—the weight of debris on the tracks. In January, approximately 20 rows of shelves “locked,” leaving researchers temporarily without access to the call numbers KE856 – KEZ and KG1—KGF2923 (a large part of our materials on Canada and Latin America).

We’re pleased to announce that these materials are now accessible again, with a few pointers to prevent the problem from happening in the future.

1. Move the compact shelving by just one row at a time. This was surprising news even for library staff, who frequently saved time in the past by “cranking” more than one row at once. We’re getting our upper-arm exercise elsewhere now, and so should you.

2. Report any debris in the tracks (or locked shelves) to library staff. Over time, accumulation of small items like paper clips and gum wrappers can add up to a shelving malfunction. Please report the “stack number” (found on the ends of the row) of any problem areas to the library staff.

Our staff are working diligently to catch up on the shelving, looseleaf filing, and hold requests from the affected areas. If you have any questions or concerns about items in that section, please visit the library’s service desk on level 3.