COMPACTUS – The Electric Shelving System

Students have perhaps noticed the closure of the A floor of the library for some time. Now that it is open, it is time to take a look inside to see what happened. Following a candid chat with the manager of the library services Ms.Ng Siew Ling, more light was shed on the compactus. 

What is the Compactus?

The electric shelving system or the compactus is the university’s latest asset. It is located on the A floor of the library. A compactus is simply a mobile shelving system that enables the user to maximize use of floor space. A traditional compactus is mechanically driven. The university has invested in an electrically driven compactus instead of the traditional mechanically driven compactus for a number of reasons.


Why electric?

A traditional compactus requires you to turn a wheel to separate the shelves so that you can find the book(s) that you are looking for. Operating a traditional compactuses can be very cumbersome. If we had one, the library might end up being a mini-gym where students could finish their work-outs just by turning the wheel of the compactus a few times. Imagine turning the wheel so many times to separate the shelves and to realize the that the book you are looking for is not there. Fortunately, the University has invested in the much more expensive electrically driven compactus which saves us a lot of trouble.


Will I get stuck in between the shelves?

The compactus is safe for students to use. There is an automated motion sensor to ensure the shelves do not close while a student is still in between. Waving your student ID is not a requirement to make the compactus stop. The compactus has undergone a series of rigorous tests to ensure safety. So do not worry about getting stuck.

What if the motion detector malfunctions?

If the motion detector does malfunctions and the person is in between the shelves while it is closing, that individual can close it manually by placing the foot on the base of the shelf. This overrides the compactus’  motion and stops it.


Wait… Why do we need a compactus?

To increase shelving space because the library barely accommodated all the books that we had.The library is as old as the university. The A floor is home to the arts and social science collection of the library. This collection alone accounts to approximately 25,000 books. Each year, for each section the number of books increases by 30-35%.

So with each passing year, the number of books the library has keeps on increasing. Naturally more space is needed to accommodate these books. With the compactus, the library can comfortably accommodate the books that are to come in the future. In fact, there are empty shelves waiting for the books to come. Because of the compactus, the number of books that can be stored in a given area has dramatically increased without sacrificing the seating capacity of the library.


Perhaps, the library dweller will have noticed noticed that the arrangement of books have changed in the other floors. That was because the number of shelves have increased on the other floors. These are the displaced shelves from the A floor. 

How do we operate it?

Operating the compactus is quite straightforward. By pushing the buttons, the user can open the required shelf where his/her book is located. If the user is having trouble operating the compactus, ask the library staff for assistance.


Phase II!!

Yes, there is a Phase II to this project. Only half of the A floor has a compactus (check it out if you have not). The other half is filled with the normal shelves.  With expected completion of  Phase II (2018), the entire A floor will be be taken up by the compactus. So there will be more space for books.

By Abdur Rahmaan Azeez

West Malaysian spirit of magniloquence, periphrasis and procrastination. I have half a mind...

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