Jungheinrich UK has supplied materials handling equipment that will operate at The Bodleian Library’s new £26 million book storage facility (BSF) based in Swindon. Oxford’s Bodleian Library houses some of the most treasured books, maps and manuscripts ever produced. The library is entitled to receive a copy of every book published in the UK, which means it receives some 1,000 volumes a day and five kilometres of extra shelf space is needed every year to house the expanding collections.

The collections had been stored in an 11-storey book stack housed within the new Bodleian Library at Oxford University and in an underground book store deep under the streets of Oxford – as well as in temporary storage facilities outside the city.

However, it was clear that a purpose-built unit was required to house some of the Bodleian’s millions of books in an environment that would ensure they would not deteriorate and in a way that allowed each volume to be quickly located and picked.

A site was identified 28 miles from Oxford, at South Marston, Swindon on a direct route to the library, allowing for a reliable book-delivery service to the central Oxford reading rooms.

The book storage facility (BSF) has been designed around 31 aisles of very narrow aisle (VNA) high-density storage shelving. Each aisle is 71 metres long and the shelving is 11.4 metres high. The aisles will be served by eight Jungheinrich EKS 312 order pickers.

When full, the new warehouse will house some 8.4 million books, maps, manuscripts, microfilms, periodicals and newspapers dating back to the 18th century and moving the books to their new home will be a massive task.

Over the next year nearly six million volumes will be transferred into the BSF in what will be the biggest book move in the Bodleian’s history.

During the stocking phase, trays of books will be delivered from the original underground book store and the other temporary sites where they have been housed by van and lorry.

On arrival the trays will be transferred to their allocated shelves by Jungheinrich EKS 312 ZG order pickers fitted with specially designed ‘tray to shelf’ trolleys. The trolleys allow the maximum number of book trays to be delivered quickly, efficiently and safely. Made from steel with stainless steel tops, the trolleys have three levels. Using the EKS 312 ZG’s supplementary lifting feature, the operator raises the trolley to the precise level required and the trays of books are slid across from the truck into the shelving. Once book trays from the top level of the trolley have been transferred, the operator collapses the empty shelf to allow easy access to the second level. This process is repeated before put-away is commenced from the lowest tier on the trolley. This results in significant ergonomic benefits for the truck operator and also makes book put away highly productive.

Once the book migration is complete two of the model ZG order pickers with the supplementary lift feature will be converted by the Jungheinrich project team on site to LG models. They will also be fitted with a different type of picking trolley that has been designed by the Jungheinrich team to allow books to be quickly and easily picked to fulfil student and researcher book requests and then returned to be put away in their allocated location within the shelving.

In addition to the order pickers, Jungheinrich has supplied a fleet of powered pallet trucks and an electric powered counterbalance truck. The counterbalance truck is required to change the order pickers’ batteries while the powered pallet trucks will help deliver incoming trays of books directly to the P&D area at the end of each aisle where they will be collected by the order pickers for put-away.

The bespoke facility has capacity to support the libraries’ projected growth over the next 20 years. Unlike most logistics operations where picking involves replenishment, this application will house eight million individual items – and only one of each. In addition, when a reader has finished with the item, it will be returned from Oxford and processed back into the storage location. This reverse logistics operation is integral to the solution.

Bodley’s librarian, Dr Sarah Thomas says: “The completion of the book

storage facility ensures the library’s unparalleled collections are preserved and protected for future generations.”

“We have been running out of space since the 1970s and the situation has become increasingly desperate in the last few years. Now we can look to the future with confidence that we are preserving one of the most complete records of the written word in state-of-the-art secure archival conditions.”

Hans-Herbert Schultz, managing director of Jungheinrich UK, says: “The Bodleian Library’s new book storage facility is a very high-profile and specialised warehouse development. The collections that will be stored within it are, quite simply, priceless. We have worked closely with our partners from the Bodleian Library on the development of a materials handling solution that precisely meets their needs and the success of the project is a great testament to the dedication and commitment of our team and, indeed the quality of the Jungheinrich product range.”

Jungheinrich UK worked closely with consultants Total Logistics to develop the Bodleian solution.