"The collection of books thus obtained and preserved, will present a complete monumental history of American literature, during the existence of the law."

Smithsonian catalogue system / Charles C. Jewett, 1853.

"it is a front end to a database, in fact a suite of databases and the Internet itself, and it could produce any of millions of documents. And, if you imagine it augmented by some automated robot retrieval system, it could also produce physical books from the shelves."

Logic and the organisation of information / Martin Frické, 2012.

In his book Paper Machines, Markus Krajewski quotes Johann Jacob Moser comparing the composition of a written work by rearranging excerpts on paper slips to soldiers milling before a parade. Any apparent disorder can be suddenly regimented; all that is necessary is to give the signal. Following Krajewski’s logic, the same metaphor can be applied to a database of bibliographic references upon the application of a search query. Not only is the online catalogue not to be printed, it is almost never to be seen, except for the occasional glimpse of mere fractions of its contents. Crucially, the order in which the information is stored is irrelevant as long as there is enough meta-information to allow it to be dynamically sorted, just as the soldiers know their places. The metaphor also applies to zeroes and ones in electronic storage, one level of abstraction beyond the database itself. In the opposite direction, it also applies to the books on the shelves in the Bodleian Libraries’ Book Storage Facility (BSF). Their locations are arbitrary but they are known, allowing them to be retrieved, in this case, semi-automatically. In the case of the British Library’s Additional Storage Building (ASB)1, fully automatically.

Before developing this argument it is appropriate to examine how the online catalogue is different to its paper and card-based predecessors. After all, Krajewski has made a strong case for the card catalogue being an information processing machine, albeit manually powered and operated. In his 1991 work The Online Catalog, Thomas A. Peters acknowledges that information technology has allowed “libraries to expand access as rapidly as the production of published information has expanded” (p.9). He also foresees that this will largely happen due to that published information being online itself, with the catalogue offering direct access to it. But once a catalogue is decoupled from a local physical collection, that collection need not necessarily be local, nor even a collection. Describing the nature of the online catalogue in technical terms, “All other catalog forms are pre-coordinated. Online catalogs have the capacity to allow post-coordination.” This means dynamic combinations of (simple) indexed terms relevant to a user’s search terms, to create precision in the results delivered. In pre-coordinated systems, such as LCSH, the indexed terms are combined in advance by the indexer or cataloguer. For Oddy, once post-coordinate linking of data was possible, the distinction between main entry and the consequently necessary added entries, or cross-references, is obviated (p.143), simplifying the catalogue’s structure for an untrained user. Frické expresses it in practical terms: “for a computer, once a characteristic is recorded as data for an item, then retrieval, or classification, via that characteristic is usually a trivial and, essentially, a zero cost operation.” But some useful characteristics, notably subject, “are difficult to implement and apply” (p.14).2

Online, “The bibliographic records are not organized in any meaningful way until the user interacts with the system” (Peters, p.30). And the question today arises of what that system, with which the user interacts, should be. Some academic libraries are questioning the role of the catalogue as something the user chooses to search (Kortekaas, 2012). Already common at such institutions, ‘discovery layer’ software offers a simple search engine-type box with bespoke indexing and will find ‘hits’ beyond works on the library’s shelves. This is a practical attempt to present a unified interface between a library’s physical holdings and the digitally published journals and books it also offers access to. But it also suits the current generation of students who have grown up with Google and have never used a card catalogue.

In practice – and this is what motivated Oddy’s comments – users are searching for a “work” more than a particular “manifestation” of it (p.152). Such terminological distinctions are fundamental to the latest generation of cataloguing code, Resource Description and Access (RDA) and the conceptual model on which it is based, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and the Statement of International Cataloguing Principles, 2009 (Maxwell, 2013, p.2). Under this conceptual scheme, Oddy’s users are rather searching for a manifestation of an expression of a work, more than they are a singular item of it.3 Indeed, for born-digital documents, the concept of item could be considered superfluous, as many readers can access the same document simultaneously.

Designed to work like a database, FRBR is concerned with entities – things that exist and can be recorded – and the relationships between them. Talking of relationships, ISBD was to AACR2 what FRBR is to RDA. FRBR/RDA is also designed for a universe of entities broader than those found in conventional libraries. In particular, such born-digital documents – and not only textual ones – can be processed as easily as can books.

“Understanding this FRBR-based structure is important to understanding RDA. This organization represents a philosophical shift away from AACR2, with its emphasis on creating access points to an emphasis instead on describing entities, with almost incidental information on creating access points.” (Maxwell, p.10)

Being designed as a database from the beginning, and with today’s computing power and search tools, access is no longer the problem it once was. Furthermore, an entity need only be described once, but can then be linked-to as many times as necessary, rather than repeated in multiple records, as has long been common practice in legacy systems (Chambers [ed.], 2013, p.95). This leads towards making library records available to general search engines, so no one any longer needs to search “the catalogue”. To know whether an item of a particular manifestation is on the shelf of a local library, one would just phrase the appropriate search term, including key words in the names of both.

The ultimate closed stack – the library warehouse

It is an open secret that most libraries can, and must, dispose of stock; but legal deposit libraries:

“are still expected to store most of what they are sent. Digital technology, which was expected to reduce the amount of publication, actually increased it and all legal-deposit libraries were facing problems in the later years of the 20th century in keeping up with the rate of acquisition” (Campbell, p.279).

In the first quotation introducing this chapter, the law Jewett refers to is that of copyright, or legal-deposit. As has been shown in this study, such institutions have been the first to develop radical solutions for book storage and bibliographic organisation to cope with the expansion caused by the observance of such laws. Campbell also makes the point that for most of library history books have been stored separately from reading rooms; something that architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner observed as characterising the 19th century library; likely a reaction to the grand era of reading rooms in the 18th century (Ibid., p.302). In the 20th century, legal deposit libraries had to resort to renting warehouse space. In the last five years, both the British Library and the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, have designed and built dedicated facilities to manage their legal-deposit and other storage needs.

The Bodleian’s BSF was opened in 2010, comprehensively replacing a variety of storage solutions that had been devised throughout the 20th century. Thanks to the BSF, two of these – the extensive Underground Bookstore (UB) that had linked the Schools Quadrangle to the Radcliffe Camera (built 1909-12), and Giles Gilbert Scott’s New Library in the 1940s, have now both been extensively renovated and re-purposed as open stacks and reading rooms.


“Space is a common theme since the inception of the library.”
(Michael Williams, Interim Associate Director, Collection Support, Bodleian Libraries)4

The Bodleian Libraries Book Storage Facility

What is now referred to as the Old Bodleian started with Duke Humfrey’s Library, which was then extended with the Selden and Arts Ends. The quadrangle – into which the Arts End is integrated – was built in 1610 after Bodley’s death, to further extend the library and provide teaching rooms and a gallery. Eventually the entire building, except the Divinity School itself, was given over to books, and this remains the case. The neighbouring Radcliffe Camera – built to house Dr John Radcliffe’s collections and library – became part of the Bodleian in the early 19th century. In the early 20th century it ran out of space and was extended by two storeys of book stacks under the lawns, known as the UB (Underground Bookstore). Suspended bookcases could be slid into the aisle for access – a very dense form of storage. With this facility Bodleian Libraries could accommodate 1.5-2 million books. The UB is now known as the Gladstone Link and is an undergraduate reading room with books on display.5

Almost as soon as the UB was in use work began on the New Bodleian Library building by Giles Gilbert Scott.6 However, the war delayed its opening until 1946. It had 11 floors of closed bookstacks, three of which were underground and, though it was designed to accommodate 50-100 years of growth it was full after just 25 years. The stacks were not compartmentalised as today’s planning laws would require (for example, to prevent the spread of fire) and services such as water pipes also ran through them.

In about 1970 the University inherited the local Nuneham Courtnay estate and progressively built modules for book storage within the walls of the kitchen garden, collectively known as the Book Repository; planning restrictions prevented these buildings from being higher than the garden’s walls. Seven modules were built over a period of twenty years, all using roller stacks. After this, further planning permission was refused. By the turn of the millennium, the Bodleian was “bursting at the seams” – all of its libraries were acutely short of space. The next resort was the Deep Store facility at a Cheshire salt mine, which is also used by the National Archives. It is a stable, cool and dry environment, ideal for document storage. The least-accessed materials were stored there, freeing space for the in-demand materials at the central sites. The main thing to go there was, interestingly, scientific journals in print. These were the first to be taken up online so demand for the print versions declined markedly. Two million books were “relegated” there but, as it is a commercial storage site, this was at some cost.

The decision was made to consolidate the Bodleian Libraries’ off-site storage, with any upfront capital outlay to be balanced by longer-term savings. This process included the barcoding of Bodleian Libraries book stock, which (unusually late for a large research library) had not previously been done. This barcoding scheme would produce the first reliable and comprehensive inventory of Bodleian Libraries physical holdings.7 Considered as the only possible city-centre site, The New Bodleian building was quickly deemed unsuitable and several years’ work went in to planning a dedicated robotic warehouse on the outskirts of Oxford. This was eventually refused planning permission in 2009 due to the building’s height and flood risk at the site. An alternative was quickly needed. Sites outside Oxford were considered at Bicester, Didcot and, finally, Swindon. Land was bought in early 2009 near to the Honda factory and its neighbouring suppliers. Ground was broken in September, seven months after the first plan had fallen through. The BSF project took 51 weeks to complete, opening in October 2010 at a cost of £26 million. It contains 230 kilometres of shelving in racking 11.4 metres high arranged in 31 aisles some 71 metres in length. This was expected to hold about eight million books but is now expected to hold up to 12.5 million due to a better understanding of how many books can fit into the archival-standard cardboard storage trays used. The BSF is wholly owned and operated by the Bodleian Libraries.

The BSF was originally planned for low-use materials (with preservation the priority) but its realised efficiency makes it practical for the supply of medium-use material too. A “victim of their own success,” good service has lead to higher demand. “Retrievals are almost double what we expected – massively exceeding expectations.”8 Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) format was chosen over robotic cranes because of the ‘low-use’ expectations; staff and forklift trucks can be shed, unlike an installed automated system. Currently, staffing is increasing, albeit from a low base. The BSF was designed for a staff of 26; it started with 18 and now has 21. However, this could change and people are employed on fixed-term contracts. Throughout this project the overall expectation was for demand for print materials to reduce. This has not yet happened and Bodleian Libraries is considering biasing its discovery system to encourage the use of online versions over print where they are available, to the end of reducing cost.

The BSF ingestion process

Williams managed 100 full-time people barcoding 15,000 books a day in a process that started before the BSF was ready to ingest items. The Bodleian’s library management system’s (LMS) catalogue records contain the barcode numbers as metadata. This is the only connection between the LMS and the BSF’s warehouse management system (WMS).9 Trays are allocated based on the size of the items they are to contain. The BSF adopted the Bodleian Libraries’ Nicholson Classification (by size, A-G, see Appendix B), that dates from the 1880s. Now, as then, and right back to 1602, like-sized materials are stored together for space efficiency. At the BSF the Nicholson Classification “mapped straight on to the trays and gave us a broad understanding of the profile of our collections to determine the pitching of the shelving.” Though only a subset of Bodleian Libraries collection is subject to the Nicholson Classification, extrapolation has proved to provide an accurate representation of the split, A-G. Other materials have also been sized as part of the ingestion process. Individual items are barcoded; the trays they go into are barcoded, and the shelf locations themselves are barcoded. Items are sorted by size, scanned-in and are loaded into an appropriately-sized tray, which is filled. These are then re-scanned by a second operator to confirm the inventory as any discrepancy could lead to loss of items in the warehouse.10 Once agreed, the completed trays are loaded on to a “tray-to-shelf” trolley, which is transported by low-level ‘stacker’ forklift to the VNA truck and loaded onto its forks. VNA forklift trucks are designed to operate in the narrowest possible aisles and are automatically guided (steered or, in practice, kept straight) once in an aisle. Their operator stands in a cab that elevates with the forks, allowing him or her to slide the tray into the appropriate shelf space, or from the shelf onto the truck when retrieving items. The truck fills the aisle’s width so cannot turn within it but the operator can reach the racking on either side with equal ease.

The operator chooses where to put trays initially – they have a handheld barcode scanner for recording where tray (for example, of barcode 123) was put away (in shelf position XYZ). After this, tray 123 will always be returned to location XYZ. The WMS can be queried to find vacant positions but this is not yet necessary as they are easy for the operators to find. So, in two important respects, the BSF, while operated as a conventional contemporary high-density warehouse, reinstates two principles common to Bodley’s Duke Humfrey of 1602 – permanent shelf locations and shelving by size. In the case of the latter this is, as before, for the more efficient use of space, though prevention of theft was also a factor in 1602, with the quartos and octavos protected in the galleries. In the case of the former, the analogy is more coincidental than instructive. The operator allocates a shelf somewhat in the way a hard disk drive would allocate a sector on the disk for new data. It doesn’t matter where it is as long as its position is known.11 During the original ingestion process, aisles were filled simultaneously to overcome the limitation of only one VNA truck being able to service an aisle at once; ie, the process would have been considerably delayed had the aisles been filled one-by-one. The BSF has an advantage over RECAP in that its aisles are open at each end, allowing truck access and exit without reversing. Seven million items were placed in the 15 months to Jan 2012 by a staff of 80, a much greater rate than achieved with any similar project before. Books arrived on pallets “on an industrial scale.”

Michael Williams admits that librarians struggled with the fact that their collections were being physically dispersed and, therefore, rendered unbrowsable, except via the catalogue. But he also points out that they had previously been in closed stacks, so the loss of collocation of a collection was really only to the librarians themselves. Books are ordered through SOLO12 – the catalogue of the major collections of the libraries of the University of Oxford. There are six ‘fetches’, or book retrieval periods, each day and two van services to Oxford, meaning an order before 10.30am will be received in the relevant reading room that afternoon. Vans go to a satellite hub where the crates are divided between an outer Oxford route and an inner one. Books arrive and leave in Toteboxes13 (limited to a maximum of 15 kilograms). The BSF is staffed between 7.00am and 10.00pm. Deliveries average 19,500 items a month, peaking in Hilary term (the beginning of the calendar year). The Bodleian receives all of the legal deposit books it is entitled to but subject librarians are allowed to take what they want for their own collections; the rest is stored at the BSF. Legal deposit receipts plus purchases typically average one thousand new books every day.

The BSF’s spare capacity is now being put to good use. 12-14 kilometres of shelving is currently housing items that will be returned to the Weston Library by the end of 2016. The refurbished building will hold less than originally expected. Magdalen College is refurbishing its library and has temporarily sent most of its collection (some 68,000 items) to the BSF, a service for which the Bodleian charges. This project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. In principle, the Bodleian could offer a similar service to other UK libraries.

The BSF building itself consists of four ‘chambers’: two dedicated to legal-deposit and two to other collections. The BSF operates to the PD 5454:2000 standard for the storage of archival documents. Air temperature is kept to 17.5°C and humidity at 50%. Much money has been saved by widening the original tolerances on these values, and more cooling takes place than heating. An array of solar panels in front of the facility can contribute 12% of electricity requirements. Improvements over planned costs have been achieved by being able to put more items in each tray than expected. As of June 2015 the BSF holds 8.3 million items, which is expected to be 8.5 million by the end of the year.

Michael Williams admits, “We didn’t know how many books we had before the barcoding.”14 The main reason for this is that a catalogue record does not necessarily equate to one physical holding, as it is possible for one catalogue entry to represent an item of multiple volumes. The estimate was 6-6.5 million books to go to the BSF but it turned out to be 7.1 million after the barcoding was complete. A planning assumption is that expansion should be enacted when the BSF has only 170,000 tray spaces remaining. On current trends, this is predicted to be in 2022. The BSF at its current extent is expected to be completely full by 2033. Like the Fisher Fine Arts Library seen in the previous chapter15, the BSF is designed to be easily expanded – for example, the current environmental systems can cope with two more chambers and the plot is 6.88 hectares in area, allowing in principle a vastly greater warehouse than currently exists. Sophisticated sprinkler (localised) and smoke detector systems protect the stock. Preferring wet books to burnt ones, Williams explains that, if the worst happens, wet books are freeze dried to prevent mould. The BSF also offers a “Scan & Deliver” service. Scanning is done on site in a dedicated room using proprietary management software.

The British Library’s Additional Storage Building16

The British Library’s Boston Spa site was inherited as part of the formation of the Library in 1973 and accommodates many of the Library’s primary staff and functions, including the Document Supply Centre (BLDSC). This derives from the National Lending Library for Science and Technology, which was sited in Boston Spa due to its central geographical location. Boston Spa is also the site of several British Library storage buildings of different generations. In the case of the ASB, ‘Additional’ refers to the fact that, unlike the Bodleian’s BSF, it was not designed to supersede all of the BL’s ‘off-site’ storage, though it did replace a facility in Woolwich. The British Library has had a long programme of working towards becoming a two-site operation, with a requirement to improve the environmental conditions of much of the stock (in particular, that at Woolwich and Colindale, the original dedicated newspaper store).

The chosen solutions, after much planning, consultancy, modelling, simulation, and experience, are the ASB and the more recent National Newspaper Building (NNB).17 The ASB is a fully automated high-density storage facility with 262 kilometres of linear shelf capacity up to a height of 21 metres with some 140,504 locations, each of which can accommodate two containers. It has seven aisles, each worked by a fully automated 20 metre ‘Storage and Retrieval Machine’ (SRM).18 Each SRM has two individually controlled load handling attachments, allowing one container to be removed in order for another to be (re)placed behind it.19 The interface to the store is via six workstations, with a heavy-duty motorised roller conveyor system connecting to the SRMs through an airlock. Before being transported through the airlock into the void, two profile stations check a container’s weight, dimensions and ‘fill level’; ie, that it is evenly loaded. There are three sizes of container with a capacity ranging from 93 kilograms to 163 kilograms. These are available in different quantities in proportion to the stock the ASB is designed to accommodate. Able to hold seven million items, despite the ‘lower-use’ designation for its stock the ASB is capable of a maximum throughput (in/out) of 90 containers an hour.20

This stock comprises serials, monographs, music, some rare books, CDs, and vinyl. As with the BSF, the ASB is also used for temporary storage. The replacement for the Colindale newspaper store – the NNB – was opened in January 2015 and, as of late September, some stock is still in the process of being moved out of the ASB into the NNB.

The ASB has a central firewall; ‘Void 4’ being on the left, ‘Void 3’ on the right. These numerals refer to the number of aisles on each side of the firewall. The environmental conditions in the ASB and NNB also conform to PD 5454:2000. Oxygen levels are kept low at 14.9% (nitrogen is added) to prevent fire in the airtight voids. It should be impossible to strike a match in the ASB and NNB, precluding the need for a sprinkler system. However, the ASB has the added precaution of the firewall, after librarians expressed concern about having so much stock in one room. The temperature is maintained at 16°C; the humidity 52%. The lack of human presence also means that energy can be saved by leaving the aisles unlit. The SRMs are capable of working in the dark.

Unlike at the BSF the interface between LMS and WMS21 is not simply one barcode per item. There is a “gateway” or “host interface” (bespoke software) that mediates between requests to the LMS and those it makes on the WMS. The ‘British Library On Demand’ service is also routed through the gateway. It looks for titles, rather than barcodes so, even if a book is barcoded, that number is not used by the WMS. Workstation operators do not scan book barcodes when filling containers. Instead, the unique identifiers for items of stock are British Library shelfmarks, which are recorded in the LMS’s bibliographic records. During the ingestion process the WMS records the shelfmarks for monographs by container. Containers are identified by barcode (see photograph in Appendix B). Serials do not have an item-level shelfmark so it is possible that several containers will have to be called out to find a particular issue because the shelfmark for a serial may well be linked to several container barcodes. To supplement and improve this there is regular auditing and metadata is improved/updated on each container that happens to be retrieved. The British Library also has a data quality team for cataloguing that is always working; for example, to find lost items. The WMS for both the ASB and NNB is customised off-the-shelf software (not library specific), but the supplier worked to integrate it with legacy British Library systems.

To service the London reading rooms a van leaves the ASB for St Pancras at 2.00am daily, arriving before 8.00am. The British Library states a 48-hour supply time for such deliveries, which also includes the time needed to find the item and pack it for transport.


Do robots dream of eBooks?

The two case studies that are woven throughout this study – those of the institutions now known respectively as the Bodleian Libraries and the British Library– have proven to be rich examples of the pressures on building design and bibliographic organisation that were a consequence of the book flood that washed over the modern period, from 1500 to the present day. This latest chapter, concerned primarily with the computerisation of the catalogue and how that made possible the efficient off-site library warehouses here described, continues to provide many points of similarity as well as some instructive differences.

The chapter Accommodate provided historical references to a magasin-format library– one in which the shelving is laid out into the room, perpendicular to the longer walls, in order to increase storage capacity. This is a core element of warehouse design, seen at its peak in the BSF as an example of the very narrow aisle, forklift truck-served format, and in the ASB as an example of maximum-density storage served by installed and automatic stacker cranes.22 The key to good design is finding the solution that costs the least throughout its lifespan, when all relevant factors are considered. Two of the key factors are the cost of space and the cost of time taken to access items and get them where they need to be. “The eventual solution will be a compromise incorporating trade-offs between these conflicting factors” (Oxley, 1994, p.30).23

Both of these library warehouses, though generally representative of their type, bring specific considerations that are not typical. Lindkvist confirms what any observer would suspect, that “Crane driven storage systems are expensive” (p.113). However, it must be borne in mind that the British Library’s brief for both the ASB and the NNB was to replace stores that could not offer an environment suitable for the perpetual storage of the stock. Meeting such a requirement could only be expensive in comparison with standard warehousing costs. Optimising a facility for safe, perpetual storage led to the low-oxygen environment, which in turn led to automated access. It has also been seen throughout this report how typical the closed stack, or at least staff-only access to books has been over the centuries. This finds its epitome in the NNB, which does not even have a viewing platform and can only be observed via video link.

None of this is to suggest that the method chosen by Bodleian Libraries is inferior. The differences in execution can be explained by differences in circumstances and requirements. The Bodleian, despite being a legal-deposit library of much longer standing than the British Library, nevertheless is not one of the UK’s national libraries. In this respect, it is freer to make its own commercial choices when it comes to preservation. Despite the delays caused by unfavourable planning rulings and the acute need for a solution, it chose a site that could accommodate a great degree of expansion and flexibility; unlike that of the ASB, which is enclosed on all sides rather like the original 19th-century bookstacks in Bloomsbury.

The ASB is considerably smaller in floor area than the BSF despite their similar capacities. Forklift trucks require significantly more floor space in which to operate than stacker cranes, but the BSF’s plot can afford this.24 It is true that employing people – in this case specialist forklift truck operators – is expensive, but it is also possible to change staffing levels according to need. In comparison, once a stacker crane is installed, every minute it is idle is a minute in which it is not covering its costs.

It should also be noted that, despite having the most advanced technological solution, the ASB’s systems still identify ingested items by a shelfmark scheme that has its origins in the age of steam. To this author’s mind that just makes the whole enterprise all the more fascinating.


This concludes the third chapter concerning the computerisation of the catalogue and the library warehouse. Next, the subject changes to the conclusion of this study, and a brief speculation about the future.



1. Known at the British Library’s ex-ammunition factory compound near Boston Spa as simply ‘Building 31’. back

2. Frické quotes Shera (1965) on classification to the effect that true library classification by subject is a “pursuit of impossible goals.” back

3. For clarification, a library identifies a manifestation by ISBN; an item by the barcode or RFID tag adhered to it upon accession. Frické deals with FRBR thus: “With Panizzi, in the 19th century, the library ontology contained three kinds of things: works, editions and physical copies. This centuries old ontology is tied to books. Yet it is clear that many IOs [information objects], or, more generally, ‘artistic creations’, never appear as books – there are musical symphonies, operas, films, performed plays, and so on. So there needs to be a category to catch this ‘medium of expression’ of a work. FRBR just calls it expression.” Frické prefers ‘edition’ for manifestation and ‘copy’ for item. back

4. Interviewed by the author for this study, 23rd July, 2015, at the BSF. back

5. Many of its original suspended rolling bookcases are still in use (although no longer mobile) on the upper level. The lower level is mostly furnished with modern rolling stacks. Much of the floor between the two levels is the original steel grille design allowing light to pass down. back

6. Now the Weston Library, housing Special Collections. back

7. Barcododing of accessions is now done at the cataloguing stage, before books are sent to the BSF. back

8. Interestingly, it takes, on average, one minute (or less) to retrieve an item, but two to replace it. back

9. The WMS is designed for library applications, of which the BSF was the first (in VNA format) in the UK; there are other examples in Europe and the US (eg, RECAP, a joint project between Princeton and Harvard, see p.16), using software from the same supplier. back

10. Trays are also periodically recalled for audit by the WMS. back

11. If the BSF were required to supply high-use items it would make sense for quickly accessible shelf locations to be chosen. back

12. Search Oxford Libraries Online – back

13. Industrial strength containers with hinged lids. back

14. Bodleian Libraries announced the accession of its 12 millionth item on 10th November, 2015 (University of Oxford, 2015). back

15. Campbell (p.299) also gives the example of Utrecht University Library (2004). “… the structure of the [adjacent] car park has been designed so that it can be extended vertically to provide extra book storage on top.” Campbell notes that a floor full of books is up to three times heavier than a floor full of cars. back

16. The section derives from an interview of Helen Andrews, Operations Project Manager, British Library, conducted by the author at Boston Spa on 29th September 2015. back

17. Andrews stated that the British Library took greater internal control of the NNB project after gaining vital experience planning and running the ASB. She was not directly involved in the development of the ASB but stated that it was largely delivered by external consultants and suppliers. back

18. Generically known as a stacker crane. See Gattorna (ed.), 1990, pp.206-7; Lindkvist, 1985, p.112. back

19. In this ‘double-deep’ storage, some ease of access is sacrificed for storage density. See Gattorna (ed.), 1990, p.205. The BSF has a similar arrangement, albeit handled manually. back

20. An early simulation of the ASB can be viewed at: back

21. Internally, the British Library refers to its warehouse management system as the ‘Warehouse Control System’ (WCS). back

22. Albeit in a warehouse it is typical for shelving to run perpendicular to the shorter walls. back

23. This quotation is taken from an article in the trade publication Storage, Handling, Distribution, which was supplied to the author by the BLDSC in the form of a PDF scan of the original, which had been called for the purpose from its home in the ASB. back

24. Petroski and Campbell both mention that, when designing bookstacks in the 19th century, despite the availability of steel and glass, allowing great height, storage density was always limited by the floor space required for human access. See Petroski, p.184; Campbell pp.304-7. back