1925 Contractors install numerous advanced technological devices to facilitate the storage and retrieval of almost two million volumes and to coordinate activities throughout the enormous building. Experts agree that the new library is the most technologically sophisticated in the world. The most important feature is the freestanding, six-tier, metal bookstack. Like a building within a building, this self-supporting stack holds more than one million volumes. By 1927, its capacity will be exceeded only by the stacks at the British Museum, New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress.
1926 The new library's
book retrieval system is designed to work like this: When a patron requests
a book, a librarian in the Reading Room transmits the request to the stacks
via a Teletype system. An employee stationed in the stacks: 1) receives
this request via a recording typewriter; 2) retrieves the book from its
place on the more than 20 miles of shelves; and 3) places it on a conveyor
system for a long, circuitous trip to the requesting librarian. The entire
process requires only two to four minutes.
1926 The new building also houses an advanced book-processing facility, which includes a cataloging department and bindery. Here, new acquisitions will be both bound and cataloged. Once processed, a new book will be placed in the stacks, and its author, title, and subject cards will be placed in the Free Library card catalog in the corridors on the second floor. The book’s movements can be tracked with in-house circulation records and the borrower’s library card.