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Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS)

Automated Storage and Retrieval System

A unique feature of the Oviatt Library is the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS) in the east wing, the first ever AS/RS for libraries. Originally referred to as Leviathan II, the AS/RS was constructed between 1989 and 1991 at a cost of $2 million.

The AS/RS consists of 13,260 steel bins, each 2-foot x  4-foot, on a rack structure that occupies an 8,000 square feet room at forty feet high. Bin heights vary at 6-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch, 15-inch, and 18-inch. The bins are arranged on both sides of six aisles, each of which has a Storage and Retreival Machine (SRM), guided by rails at the top and bottom.

Selected bound periodicals and books are aranged in the various storage bins depending on height and item type. Item barcodes are mapped to bin locations in the AS/RS Equipment Management System (EMS). Based on bin arrangements, the capacity of the AS/RS is an estimated 1.2 million items. The AS/RS is currently at an estimated 67% capacity. Please note that estimated capacity varies due to bin arrangement, bin height, and stored item type.

Retrieal requests of AS/RS items are submitted via the Library OneSearch searching tool and is sent to the AS/RS EMS. The EMS directs the SRM in the appropriate aisle to deliver the bin to a pickup station behind the Guest Services Desk. Time from initial request to availability at the Guest Services Desk is under ten minutes.

Although the AS/RS was installed along with unique software developed in 1989-1991, the AS/RS has received only two major upgrades to date. In 2011, an upgrade was completed to improve the six SRM's controller, communications, and horizontal/vertical positioning. The second upgrade began in 2015 and involves two phases. The first phase addressed server software and the second phase is currently updating hardware on three out of the six SRMs. 

Historical Notes:

In the Northridge Earthquake on January 17, 1994 almost 100% of the library's open shelf collection had fallen on the floor. Not one book in the AS/RS was damaged nor was any bin in danger of falling.

Companies involved with construction, maintenance and upgrades have included Eaton-Kenway, Inc., HK Systems Inc., Dematic Group, Bastian, and is currently supported by KION Group-Dematic.


“Robosupport Staff 1.” Library Mosaics, July/August 1990.

Heinrich, H., & Willis, E. (2014). Automated storage and retrieval system: A time-tested innovation. Library Management, 35(6/7), 444-453.