Friday, December 30, 2011

chutes, stacks and tubes

Moving from the Netherlands to Australia to England during the last few months has not only meant that I haven't been blogging, but also that I haven't been able to maintain a nice library of books to curl up and read over winter. Luckily there are always libraries!

I am a big fan of public libraries in all shapes and forms, including the solemn and silent, the noisy little locals and the slickly designed big nationals. Libraries have all sorts of fun technologies to move books, request slips and other papers around like chutes, conveyer belts and yes, of course, pneumatic tubes.

The New York Humanities and Social Sciences library, and now the New York Science, Industry and Business library have pneumatic systems which allow request slips to be sent deep into the stacks, the books returned on a ferris wheel. In the Law Library in the Library of Congress, there are pneumatic tubes running from the closed stacks to the reading room. Sadly however, some libraries have recently lost their pneumatic systems in the midst of rennovations, such as the St Louis Central Library.

There are so many reasons to love libraries, the amuseument park of chutes, stacks and tubes only adding to the pleasure and importance of these public institutions.

Image of pneumatic tubes still in use at St Louis Public Library, from VanishingSTL's Flikr photostream.