Tag Archives: Australia

5 bin Automated returns system

4 Jun

Today I am going to talk about the automated returns system (ARS) we installed in our Eastern Resource Centre this year.

First up I have to say this is a small machine – only 5 bins.
It’s not the sexy 10 bin TechLogic sorter at Brisbane Public Library. I’m one of those sad types that cheers myself up by watching the UltraSort live on movie!

It’s not a robot retriever (that’s ASRS – Automated Storage and Retrieval System) like we hear about overseas (and may see soon at Macquarie).
It’s not even the flying monkeys that girlwithshoes teased me about and I secretly believe could still happen one day.

The 5 bin machine offers 4 bins for your sort choice (we have chosen different location codes), and 1 bin for any and ALL exceptions that do not fit those 4 sort categories. We purchased a hybrid system that can handle RFID or barcodes, and only have bins at present. However the QLS model we selected does have a trolley that can be purchased – just note that you have to buy a “docking station” [costs more than the trolley] as well for it to work. TechLogic is the only other model which offers a returns direct to trolley model at present. It’s trolley is far superior to the elongated QLS model (difficult to maneuver I think and only 1 shelf) but also more expensive …

We bought the QLS machine but there are also options from 3M, TechLogic, Bibliotecha and numerous others for every sec after this blog is posted!

The staff are happy with it so far, and we have these “learning experiences” to share with other libraries going down this track:

  • Students want to use these machines. Don’t let them put up the face plate untill you’re REALLY ready to take books. Students will break through paper signs, remove plastic signs and generally try and ram books into this enticing returns machine : – )
  • Whatever the machine itself can do remember that the SIP2 connection still limits what you can do as they only transmit certain data
    eg we currently can’t refuse items from other locations, or items from another floor
  • If you haven’t got RFID yet buy a hybrid system so you can migrate as technology develops. Our system is running books by barcode at present, alongside dvds by RDID tags. Eventually we can migrate books across to RFID from barcodes in our own time, with it appearing seamless to library borrowers.

I’m sure the Librarian of the ERC, much more disciplined than me, will eventually organise me to give a paper on this somewhere. I’ll co-operate as long as I’m allowed to name it the same as I did the working group – Automated Returns Sorter Experience. So the working group could get Kiss my ARSe coffee mugs!

Setting up dvds as a set (or never opening them again)

3 Jun

Today I can actually talk about something we have done at Melb Uni.

photo of dvd with RFID tags

photo of dvd with RFID tags

As with most lending returns and shelving areas, our staff have a LOT of manual handling to do. That used to include opening every DVD that was returned to see if the borrower had remembered to put the right dvd in the case! Annoying; plus intensive use of wrists in a repetitive strain type movement. Our ERC library holds the Media Collection, and come Friday they function as the campus VideoEzy (but free!), so LOTS of opening and closing of dvds.

On top of that we had a security problem with many of our prize DVDs disappearing throughout the year. Initially we considered those cases where you have to lock/un-lock manually, but that is just another form of manual handling. So the acquisition of a new automated returns sorter (more on that in a forthcoming post) allowed us more options.

We purchased an automated returns sorter that can accept either barcodes or RFID tags. Then we put each DVD into a 3M lockable case, with a RFID D4 (big white square) on the case, and a CD8 (white round ‘doughnut’ on centre) on the actual DVD. These 2 tags are programmed on the 3M RFID conversion station/pad as a “set”.

Now when you check in a DVD the automated returns sorter checks
– is this the RIGHT CASE and DVD for the set? If not it pops it back out to the borrower with a little message “Problem with media item. Check that correct disc is in case“.
– does this case have a DVD in it all? If not it pops back out to the borrower again. The same message is used for both scenarios “Problem with media item. Check that correct disc is in case”.

If you have managed to return your dvd in the right case, it accepts it, returns it and pops it in a bin. Then our staff still have to manually swipe them through the relocking mechanism (it’s magnetic and currently set right on the side of the DVD returns bin) but no further checking is required, onto a trolley and back upstairs.

VERY EXCITING – well for lending and manual handling warriors like me anyway : – )

Loaning eBook readers

2 Jun

Today’s blog post is going to be what is apparently known as a “link post” (where I link to other’s content),  as I still haven’t lent my eBook readers or done anything myself. I’ll do a “think post” soon though on how we are RFID tagging dvds for returns so we don’t have to manually check them – as my staff have actually done something I can report and “think about” for that topic.

So eBook readers: At my Uni Library we have an Ecoreader, Kindle and Iliad to play with. Different staff have liked different things about all 3, so the old adage is obviously true that no 1 size fits all. Kathryn Greenhill has some clear thoughts on the iPad as an eBook reader in Australia on her blog, including a lovely summary of ebook readers here in Oz. She points also to Judy O’Connell’s excellent summary of the Kindle in Australia as well as the networking group in Facebook EBook readers in libraries.

Issues that have to be addressed specifically for loans desks are removing credit card details if purchases made on device by  a borrower; returns; penalties for lost items; manual handling of item for loan (not wanting to increase no of items behind desks that have to be handed over repetitively to borrowers); loan period; instructions for use and recharging.

I’m willing to explore the above by trial and error, however how do I start a trial?

Easiest option: Just advertise they are available for loan (content free) and see if anyone borrows one? Lend for a week perhaps… Looks like this is what Erasmus University in Rotterdam has tried. Also there is a report of user reactions to a similar trial at http://liveserials.blogspot.com/2010/04/e-book-readers-in-mobile-friendly.html

Preloaded content: This was my original thought. I wanted to look for an alternative to our electronic reserve. However available academic content is sporadic, and filling a reader with the reading list of a particular class was immediately knocked out as we can’t get everything for any class we’ve thought of yet. I also resent the idea that I have to pay to add my own pdfs to the Kindle, and adding pdfs to the Illyiad chews up memory far in excess of actual file size.
Reference content is available often online though, and I’m about to move 2 branches to a new location, with a very small shelf allocation for reference. I’m thinking of giving the ref desk an eBook reader with a lot of ref tools loaded onto it. They can call it up on their screens to show students at their initial interview, then pass them the reader to go off and do some more work on their own. (see Wilkins & Swatman)

Ooh – just noticed that North Caroline State University has had a clever idea “One of the Kindle DX readers is a 4 hour loan news reader updated daily with TIME, Newsweek, The News & Observer, The New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. Pick up the Newsreader Kindle at the D. H. Hill Library Circulation Desk.” Perhaps I could set this up for Australian news, or just on librarian selected resources eg citation styles? Get one reader preloaded with a range of usable articles?

Large files in electronic format:
One example Ronald Jantz has identified ebook readers as being useful for, is large files we already have electronically that students don’t want to download. At my Uni Library we still have lots of students with download limits or slowness. Files such as these could be loaded onto an eBook reader and entered into the catalogue as a standard record for borrowing. Now I just have to find a sample file like this we have electronically that students would want to view on a small screen. Currently most of our large files are for fine arts and students want to enlarge them on bigger screens.

Another benefit would be for students who are out in the field, or travelling, and want to lessen the load of material they carry with them. Again this is restricted by the small amount of current academic content available, but I could explore with medical students going to their rural placement perhaps. Another use would be to allow copies of Special Collections material to be read outside the physical confines of our set reading room, or outside it’s opening hours.

Interlibrary loans:
A subset of the travelling idea would be the ability to send special material for someone else to access, without providing a copy they can keep (printing restricted from many eBook readers). Or just a copy of material that shouldn’t be banged around in postage, and you want to send as an exact replica of the book format for authenticity.

There may be specific readings that could be loaded onto an eBook reader that students with limited vision could take to class and be able to consult in an enlarged format (again struggling with content issue at this point). Also the range of audio readings might include some academic content (perhaps). I must go and talk to our DLU(Disability Liaison Unit) ….

Different formats:
American libraries have been loaning music on iPads. I could also look at popular dvds and film clips in our Media library. Instead of sending them off to view on pcs in the library, I could get hold of an iPad and loan that directly perhaps?

Well in musing to myself on what to say on this blog about lending I have already come up with some new ways to motivate myself! Success for me if not my readers : – ) If I get any of the above into practice I will add to this blog.

Sources of information:

Great archive of reports etc (thanks CW) at http://www.jiscebooksproject.org/

Mixed, 2010, “Group discussion on whether you would borrow an iPad from a public library”,  http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies-archive.cfm/1415050.html

Kathryn Greenhill, 2010, http://librariansmatter.com

Ronald Jantz, 2001, “E-Books and new library service models:An Analysis of the impact of E-Book technology on academic service models”, Information Technologies and Libraries, 20:2.

Judy O’Connell, 2010, “Kindle-ing discussion about learning”, http://www.scribd.com/doc/21629560/Kindle-ing-Discussion-about-Learning

Linda Wilkins & Paula M.C. Swatman, 2006, “E-Book Technology in Libraries: An Overview”, http://ecom.fov.uni-mb.si/proceedings.nsf/0/6844ce4b1e789dddc12571800031b4eb/$FILE/21_Wilkins.pdf