The convenience of MARS
I’m writing to applaud David Rapp’s “Robot Visions” (LJ 9/15/11, p. 20–24). Automated storage systems in libraries, though not common, have been around for a long time. It’s great to see this amazing technology in the spotlight. We love our system at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Mathewson Automated Retrieval System (MARS), named by a campuswide competition, is only slightly smaller than the new University of Chicago system. We have six cranes, 25,338 bins, and about 730,000 items stored. We saved 100,000 square feet of space for students by building a 12,789 square foot automated storage system. Because there is no public viewing area, we let visitors catch a glimpse by looping our promotional video near the main library services desk. The “MARS Cam” showcases the system from a book’s perspective, thanks to the camera placed inside a bin (imedia.unr.edu/knowledge_center/MARS720.mov)!
The system design includes workstations on three floors, with secure access for each department…. We manage more than 100 individual users and ensure that everyone is trained in proper safety procedures before they’re allowed to store or retrieve items.
Our users love it, and some even appreciate the convenience of requesting an item from the catalog and picking it up in minutes at the desk so much, they think we should move the entire collection into remote storage. Currently, our print collection is split in half between traditional book stacks and MARS. We have the capacity to house the remainder of the collection into automated storage. My guess is we’ll decide to do just that in the future.
—Carolyn Adams, Head of Lib. Svcs., Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Ctr.,Univ. of Nevada, Reno, Libs.
As mentioned in Cynthia Orr’s “Secrets of Ebook Success,” (LJ 9/15/11, p. 34–36), staff familiarity with the various ereaders is important. Using LSTA funds, the Southern California Library Cooperative recently purchased six different ereaders (including Apple iPads) in groups of ten and created training materials. Beginning in June 2011, our trainer has been going to our member libraries and training library staff to familiarize them with the different options, how downloads actually work on the various readers, and basic troubleshooting. We are doing an average of four workshops a week, on-site at any member library that requests the training…. Training and exposure to the various ereaders is important if staff are going to feel comfortable in this new environment!
—Rosario Garza, Southern California Lib. Co-op., Monrovia
Not worth the wait?
The wait might not even be worth it for new graduates (Stephanie L. Maatta, “The Long Wait,” LJ 10/15/11 p. 20–27) as they venture into their new jobs. Let’s see: they can sit passively as users come to the library to access ebooks on their Kindles…then leave, never to return. They can watch as library systems pay exorbitant amounts for downloadable books onto a PC at home, again providing another disincentive to come to the library…. Better yet, they can finish a master’s degree so they can man the drive-in window at the local library or carry materials out to the drive-up lockers…. If new graduates choose to stay inside the library, they can spend time pulling a hundred holds that some fool on a PC at 3 a.m. decided to reserve.
New graduates should ponder the time, effort, and money necessary to get a graduate degree for this kind of work….
—Harold N. Boyer, Pub. Svcs. Mgr., Springfield Twp. Lib., PA
A healthy mix?
Both older and newer librarians face unique challenges in getting hired now (John Berry, “Enlist the New Librarians,” Blatant Berry, LJ 9/1/11, p. 8). Older staff are often the first to be downsized…. Those older workers then need to find jobs…. Older workers can also face subtle ageism…. I am in a Job Seekers group that consists mostly of baby boomers. Many have been out of work for a long time. Seeing what they go through, I encourage any employer to consider creative alternatives to laying off long-serving librarians…. We are all in this together…. Our workplaces can only benefit by having a healthy mix of newer and longer-serving professionals.
—Kathy Kelly, Libn./Certified Archivist, Washington, DC
I couldn’t agree more with John Berry’s “Enlist the New Librarians” (Blatant Berry, LJ 9/1/11, p. 8) except that darn suggestion of volunteering! I’ve just started my career…. It drove me nuts every time someone said I should volunteer to get experience…. What that says is, “We totally value your skills, but we don’t value you or think enough of you to even pay you minimum wage.” That is what that suggestion to volunteer means for the librarian who has been having trouble finding work….
—Caitlyn Hall, Waco, TX