Automated Storage and Retrieval System
Only in recent years has this type of high-density automated storage technology been adapted from large-scale industries for use in the modern research library. University librarians select volumes for inclusion in the ASRS that least require browsing, such as journals and serials available in electronic form, and those that benefit most from environmentally stable conditions, such as fragile archival materials.
The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library's ASRS shelves materials underground by size rather than library classification, in racks 50 feet high, with a capacity to hold 3.5 million volumes in one-seventh of the space of conventional shelves.
This video demonstrates how the system works:
Smaller ASRS installations are currently in use or planned for only a handful of U.S. research libraries. The University of Chicago's multimillion volume installation frees shelves in the Joseph Regenstein, John Crerar, and D'Angelo Law libraries for materials that faculty, visiting scholars, and students want to discover by serendipitous browsing.
The ASRS was constructed in five phases.
- Rack components were delivered in bundles and lowered into the basement while dome was constructed above ground.
- Rack construction began in the outer two aisles in the basement, working from the north end to the south. Once each outer aisle was completed, work moved to the inner aisles, and then finish with the center aisle.
- Crane construction was completed inside the basement, and the cranes were fitted into their racks as completed.
- Empty bins were installed.
- Final commissioning and inspections were conducted.