This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol6", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
Sites are in many instances very costly, and the area at the disposal of the architect will be correspondingly restricted. In such a case it is necessary to make provision for the construction of extra stack-rooms, especially when there is a likelihood of the books outgrowing their accommodation. We have an example of such overgrowth in the case of the British Museum Library. Old newspaper volumes are being removed to an outside home, in order to give space for the volumes which have gradually accumulated and have been piled up awaiting their turn to be placed on shelves. It thus becomes an interesting problem how to fix the greatest number of shelves in the smallest space. To accomplish this, the stacks may be placed in a row quite close to one another, made so as to draw out, being carried on floor runners bedded in concrete, or suspended to an overhead girder track (Fig. 125), which has a half-round steel rail fixed to its upper surface over which the pulley wheels run. It is claimed by the makers that by this system the maximum quantity of books can be stocked away in the minimum of space. A car - as one section of the shelving is called - loaded to upwards of 3/4 of a ton can be moved with perfect ease.
Where shelving actually exists in the ordinary way it is impossible to adopt the above system, but something closely akin to it may be arranged by placing small iron rails on the top of the cases, so that they run across the gangway. An extra case can be suspended from these by means of trolleys and hangers, the whole being brought forward along its width instead of its length as above described.
Where the shelving is above 7 feet in height it would be convenient to place on the uprights, where these are of wood, some step device, so doing away with the necessity of using step ladders. Such an arrangement is shown in Fig. 126, consisting of merely a japanned or brass handle and step. There is also the Cotgreave patent (Fig. 127), which consists of a metal plate fixed to the upright, with a hinged flap step which closes flush when out of use, a knob being provided to pull down step when required.
Besides these stacks, a special case for the exhibition of new books is generally placed either on the counter or, if space does not allow of this, then in some position convenient of access both to the public and to the librarian. This is generally a wooden case covered with copper mesh wire, with no back to it if on the counter; or if it be at a distance from the librarian, it would have to be made as an ordinary cupboard fitted with doors, lock, and key.
Rolling Shelves. Fixed Sheives.
Accommodation for directories and similar books should preferably be made in the reading-room or in the public lobby of the lending department. It is a mistake to place these books in the reference department, as they are often consulted just for a few minutes, and without any special silence being required.
Great care should be exercised in fixing the points of light, whether electric or otherwise, so as to flood the whole of the shelves. A great deal of annoyance has been caused to librarians through a lack of appreciation of this section of the equipment of libraries. In a large library of several storeys, book lifts would be necessary.
A system of automatic delivery of books and bookslips will prove of great advantage to a library which has a great circulation. The Lamson Store Service Company make a speciality of pneumatic tubes, which are adaptable to any sort of business for carrying cash, parcels, etc., and can be of great use in a library. The tickets are conveyed from the public counter to the stack-rooms by pneumatic tubes, a system which has just been put in force at the British Museum. A series of brass tubes made to any size, but usually of 2 1/4 inches diameter, is laid between the various points which are to be connected, the termini being called "dock" stations, whilst those between are termed "way" stations.
Fig. 128 shows the receiving tube (A) and despatch tube (B). The exposed parts are usually finished in antique copper. The motive power is that of air compressed into tanks or reservoirs, and automatically controlled so that there is no wastage. The air is connected by iron piping to the different terminals.
The message slip is placed in a cartridge-shaped carrier, such as is shown in Fig. 129, which is then placed in the tube and the door shut. This operation automatically admits the air behind the carrier, and drives it to its destination, where it automatically shuts off the air. The door at despatch end immediately opens, and another message can be sent on. This may be done at the average rate of one every five seconds, and the approximate speed in actual use is 2000 feet per minute. These tubes may be operated by gas, steam, electricity, petroleum, or water motors, whichever may be most suitable to the requirements. When the installation is a small one the power may be obtained from a foot pump placed under the counter immediately beneath the despatch station.
Fig. 131. Carrier or Mechanical Figer.
The books themselves may be conveyed by means of trollies run on a miniature railway track, and connected from one floor to another by small lifts, the whole process being automatic in its action.
Lamson's pick-up carrier forms an interesting mode of transit, which can be used to carry book-slips, documents, books, or other bulky articles. This carrier is operated by a specially woven cable cord driven by a small motor. At each station there is a despatching and a delivery shelf.
In Fig. 130 the carrier is seen above the delivery station, whilst the despatch platform is on the left-hand side of the illustration. The carrier itself (Fig. 131), consists of an upper and lower wire frame or mechanical fingers, the upper one being fixed whilst the lower is controlled by the curved bar and spring. In Fig. 130 the carrier is seen passing a station, and the framework remains closed; but where it is required to pick up or deposit cargo the electric current depresses the curved bar, so that it runs along the topmost bar, above the stations, which, on account of its projection, causes the bar to dip and thus opens out the lower finger, so dropping or picking up goods as the case may be. This system is being used for the transmission of book-slips by the Boston Public Library.
The general aim in library equipment should be to so arrange the fittings as to economise space, to make the most of natural lighting, to save labour, and to concentrate traffic.