Visiting the “Book Storage Facility” (and remember)


This week started with finishing the Annexe project. That means that Karin and I moved the whole Monday lots of books around. We put them in a perfect order and made sure that everywhere is enough space and that it looks nice and neat. And finally we put the very last book in place!!! (feeling proud 😉 )

Wednesday was another cool day. In the afternoon, we had a trip to Swindon with the other trainees. Swindon is a town about an hour away from Oxford (driving time). It is famous for its former GWR (Great Western Railway) railway works. But for the libraries from Oxford it is also the place where about 8, 4 Millions of volumes (books and journals) are stored. The Book Storage Facility (BFS) is similar to the Speicherbibliothek in Switzerland.


We had a general presentation about the story of this building and about the team who is responsible for book moves (not only in connection with the BFS).

Then we had a tour through the storage itself. I was surprised that we could go inside and between the shelfs, because this wasn’t possible in the Speicherbibliothek. The biggest difference between this two warehouses is that in the BSF human beings take the requested books out of their boxes all by hand. There are no robots, which support these people. I imagine that this must be a very exhausting jobs due to the fact that you have to be very concentrated to put all the books back to the right place. Even though they have a computer-generated list which books belongs where and the driving machine (don’t know what it is called 😉 ) knows then to which shelf it has to go and how high it has to go.dsc05203

I was impressed to see all these filled and also some empty shelfs and to learn how it is organised. I asked why they decided to do everything by hand instead of using robots as support. The answer was: “If there are less requests we can reduce the staff, but a robot cost always no matter if there is one or hundreds of inquiries a day.”

On Friday, 11.11.16 at 11.11 o’clock I experienced the first time in my life two silence minutes (zwei Schweigeminuten). We were in a meeting when suddenly a strange alarm rang. Then everybody turned silent and some people even closed their eyes. I was sitting in this room, feeling a little bit surprised and confused. But I joined their silence. I suspected a relation to the poppies (Mohnblumen), which I have been seeing people wearing since a few weeks. After two minutes the alarm rang again and our meeting continued. Later I asked Hannah (trainee) what this silence was for. She explained to me that on 11th November is the Remembrance Day. And at 11.11 o’clock people usually are silent for two minutes to remember all the soldiers who fought and died in the first world

Man wearing a remembrance day poppy on blue shirt. UK

war and in general to think about all soldiers who died in war. This was a novel experience for me, because it was unexpected and something I never know before.

And in remembrance of the soldier who died in war I end this blogpost now.


Source of the Poppy Picture:


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