Storage requests – book’s journey from the stacks to customer


First, Emira Gunic prints out the storage requests from the previous night. One printout for each requested item.

In addition to item details the requests may also hold other important information. Of multi volume books, the customer may have specified a particular volume. The printout can also include, for example, exceptional pick-up times or places.

Some storage books are ordered using green paper slips. These are needed for example, to request material which does not yet appear in the Volter database.

Next, we descend to the library’s closed stacks, where  the majority of the stack material is held. Storage requests from the previous night are already waiting there in red plastic holders. We take  holders also for our printouts.

A large pile of storage requests is sorted based on the book’s location in the three-storey library stacks.

In the depths of the stacks

We begin to collect  items on the second stack floor. Each  book is shelved based on a shelf classification system. An experienced library stack visitor is able to navigate without assistance, but a first-timer would easily get lost without the shelf-end labels.

The labels are not easy to understand. K tells that the topic of the book is history, while Kc is more presicely a book on Finnish history. Roman numeral indicates the size of the book. The final number is given to each book when it first arrives to library.

In the depths of the stacks you can imagine to encounter almost anything. Once a small bat really flew along the deserted stack aisles. But the horse sound that Emira Gunic heard between the bookshelves turned out to belong to a children’s sound book.

For collecting items, you always need a book chart, because the books can be big and heavy.
When the correct item is found, half of the request is placed on the shelf to mark the book’s location in the stacks – this helps to identify where the book needs to be returned. The other half holding the borrower’s name is inserted between the book’s pages.

One language book is missing. We do not stay to look for it, but instead write down its details. Later at the computer we will check its situation in more detail. It may be that a borrower has  ordered the book earlier, but has forgotten to collect it and then has reordered the item. In that case the book is already waiting on the pick-up shelf at the customer service.

Books are sorted on a shelf for future processing, one book pile for each borrower. This time all books fit into the shelf, but for example multi-volume newspaper requests require a lot of space.

Ready for borrowing

Emira Gunic continues her work on the other stack floors.The already collected storage requests are handled by Jukka Karhu at the customer service upstairs.


First, you need to check that the book has a RFID tag to allow borrowing and returning at the new shelf-check machines. In addition, you may need to add various collection labels to books.

Usually the RFID tag is attached to the book’s inside back cover. In legal deposit materials the tag must not cover any text and therefore it sometimes needs to be inserted to another place.

Unless the book is on loan for the very first time, its condition needs to be checked. Any markings or annotations in the book are marked down so that when the book is returned it is known that they are not caused by the borrower.

Once in a while you get books with sheets still attached to each other. These must be  cut open  in the library’s bindery. Previously many books were sold like this and it was left for the reader to cut the pages open.
The processed items are sorted alphabetically in the pick-up shelves at the customer service. A separate shelf for books that can be borrowed home and another one for those items that must be used on the library premises.

Books ready for pick-up

Many thanks to Jukka Karhu and Emira Gunic for this interesting trip into Feeniks storages!

Text: Ilmari Jauhiainen
Translation: Kristiina Hintikka
Photos: Teppo Kahtola

Published date 3/29/2017 3:15 PM ,  Modified date 3/29/2017 3:31 PM