Macquarie University is to introduce an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) in a bid to meet its hardcopy book and periodical storage needs through to 2050.\nThe four storey high system, an Australian first according to Jennifer Peasley, deputy university librarian at Macquarie University, will be located in a new purpose-built library facility currently under construction.\nEvolved from ASRS commonly used in warehousing systems in the automotive parts industry, the system, supplied by HK Systems, will use robotic cranes to retrieve items stored in metal bins, themselves stored in an environmentally controlled vault.\nOnce an order for an item is placed, the system will take about two minutes to deliver it to a service desk for collection by a student or staff member.\nBarcodes, rather than RFID tags, will be used to identify and track items. A two digit code, based on the last two digits of the barcode, is used to help library staff manually identify items in the bins.\nThe system and storage facility, due to be complete by December 2010, will be capable of handling 1.8 million items \u2013 the number of items expected to be in the collection by 2050 \u2013 once complete. Macquarie is currently in the process of tagging its current collection of 1.4 million items in preparation for the move to the ASRS.\nPeasley said Macquarie had opted for the system as the high density storage will result in a significantly smaller building footprint, releasing more space for student use, and will allow for Macquarie to consolidate its entire collection into one physical collection. It currently shares a storage facility with the State Library of NSW.\nAround 80 percent of Macquarie\u2019s physical collection will be stored in the ASRS with the remaining 20 percent to be housed on open access shelves.\n\u201cThis way we will be able to place the lesser used items in the storage system and have the more commonly used items in the open access area where students can still walk in and take it off a shelf,\u201d she said.\nThe university's new library facility will contribute to the aims of the University to support greater intensity in research, to support excellence in teaching and learning, and to engage with the community, Peasley said.\n"The focus of the Library has changed from being a repository for books to being a learning space which provides flexible, configurable study spaces for new generations of students, including students with special needs, researchers and postgraduate students."\nA video of a similar ASRS system in action can be viewed here.