Cleverly orchestrated: Daily sorting of 3,000 items across two floors in Kolding

From the moment you step into the public library in Kolding/Denmark, it becomes evident that aesthetics plays a significant role in a city renowned for its design-centric reputation. Built in 2005, the library is an architectural masterpiece. Therefore, the modernised return and sorting system, operational since April 2022 and replacing an obsolete solution from 2005, is also considered a state-of-the-art design attraction.

Encased in glass walls on both floors, it daily evokes joyful astonishment among young and old alike. "The swift and graceful movement of various items over the conveyor belts, rotated, and carefully placed onto the carts is consistently fascinating," describes Deputy Library Manager Bethine Gregersen, elucidating the deliberate orchestration of the entire system.


Technical Feat

The facility isn't just technically tailored precisely to the on-site requirements; the design of the return inlets has also been customised. Every detail seamlessly integrates into the coordinated overall concept. Each day, up to 3,000 items are sorted across two floors into over 50 sorting destinations. Numerous transport modules are employed to transport media horizontally, diagonally, or vertically. Every heavy or light book, narrow or thin magazine, CD, DVD, or media package lands gently at the designated destination. When one of the Nex.Carts (stacking carts) is approached, a rotating module aligns each book individually on the conveyor belt in seconds before it's neatly stacked on the cart with the spine facing outward for fast and easy reshelving.

Whether the media items land on one of the 29 stacking carts, in one of the six electronic bins, or in one of the 17 blue boxes, they follow a sophisticated dramaturgy. A differentiated sorting concept accelerates the restocking process into the available shelf inventory and frees up staff for personalised customer services or event planning.

Of course, this sorting concept can be optimised according to demand with just a few clicks on the Nex.Portal. Through a large screen in the sorting room, the team has real-time visibility of the destination’s fill levels and the entire sorting route at all times.

Bethine Gregersen is enthusiastic: "Nexbib's new solution isn't just very fast and particularly slim, but also significantly quieter than the previous system. That's fantastic!" The prior system from 2005 had aged; spare parts were no longer available. The predecessor system operated with a media lift that ran continuously and always audibly, even when there were no items to be transported to the upper floor.

"It was clear that a modernisation of the sorting process in the future should do without a lift. Nexbib offered a convincing alternative," says Bethine.

Towards a Sustainable Future

Accessibility, ergonomics, and environmentally conscious operation are of paramount importance. Aspects that are now contemporaneously met with the renewal of the return and sorting facility. The Kolding Library is committed to a sustainable society and has been recognised with a World-Goals certification by the Danish Library Association, in line with the 17 sustainability goals of the WHO. It participates in an initiative to support other libraries and the population in meeting these goals.

The use of stacking carts is particularly ergonomic for the staff. In a few seconds, the filled cart is electronically driven horizontally to facilitate the gentle return of books to the shelf. Also, the bottom of the Nex.Bin electronically adjusts to an ideal height for unloading. The bins primarily collect reserved media, magazines, CDs, and thin media, or serve to select thematically curated collections for event-based presentations. The boxes are electronically exchanged and moved with a trolley. The boxes, along with the media, are transported directly to the respective branch, eliminating the need for time-consuming or laborious reloading.

To enable comfortable returns for children and wheelchair users, there are two indoor return inlets with different heights. An outdoor inlet serves as a 24/7 drive-in media return solution.

Photos © Bibliothek Kolding, Katrine Worsøe

Kolding Library

The libraries in Kolding are vibrant hubs of activity, with nearly 27,000 active users. People of all ages and interests are invited to borrow from the extensive collection of almost 175,000 media items or participate in one of the many events. Whether seeking knowledge, community, or cultural experiences, the libraries in Kolding are an integral part of the lives of the community's approximately 92,000 residents. With branches in Christiansfeld, Lunderskov, and Vamdrup, they work to develop strong local partnerships based on the needs and interests of the local areas. Additionally, there are five self-service stations in grocery stores to engage the community at various levels with library services. On a national level, libraries are pivotal in addressing major societal challenges such as declining children's reading habits, sustainability, loneliness, and increasing societal polarization, positively impacting change.

For more information about Kolding Library.

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