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Macquarie University

Within the next few years Macquarie University aims to be in the top eight research-intensive universities in Australia and in the top 200 in the world. The new Library, will symbolise the university's aspirations and reputation. It will provide a 21st Century learning and research environment that facilitates vital interactions between people and knowledge.

Located at the main entry to the university, the new Library will enrich campus life by providing a central Library combined with learning, research and social spaces. The facilities will be unmatched by any academic library in Australia and complement today's collaborative approach to learning and research. The native park lands of the campus have inspired an innovative design, aimed to set impressive sustainability standards including the goal to achieve a Australia's Green Star Five-Star rating.

System Objectives

  • Collection space for 500,000 items on open access and 1.8 million items stored in the Automated Library System (ALS)
  • 3,000 flexible, configurable study spaces based on new approaches to learning space design for new generations of students, including students with special needs, researchers and postgraduate students
  • 24/7 operation achieved with different building zones and minimization of separate service points; minimal built in furniture
  • Wireless network and power everywhere for access to digital learning and information environments
  • Access to food and beverage services
  • Accommodations for 150 staff members
Macquarie University ALS System
Macquarie University ALS System

InnovatIve Approach to Sustainability

One of the key innovation points for the project is the incorporation of the Automated Library System (ALS), the first time such a system has been installed in a library in Australia. Calculations show that the incorporation of the ALS has saved more than 11,000 sq. meters of built space (a 38% reduction) and the associated ongoing energy costs. The University's Ex Libris Voyager Library System interfaces with the Dematic's Document Management Software (DMS). When a specific volume is requested, Voyager sends a request to the DMS. The DMS searches its inventory for the requested materials and instructs one of the ALS machines to retrieve the appropriate book bin. This bin is transported to a workstation at the front of the aisle where a library employee is directed by the end-of- aisle display to select the requested book or material. The requesters are able to pick up their desired materials at the circulation desk.

Customer Benefits

  • The ALS allows the vast majority of stored materials to be retrieved in less than 5 minutes, as compared to 24 hrs. or more for off-site storage.
  • The ALS requires less than a quarter of the square footage that conventional storage would require. This spacing savings allows the library to add student friendly areas: study areas, lounge space, coffee shops and group meetings space.
  • The cost of the ALS building was one seventh of what an equivalent building would cost with standard shelving.
  • ALS operates in a controlled environment that is necessary for the preservation of delicate library materials.
  • Bar code scanning provides almost 100% ALS accuracy.
  • Automated self auditing process is contained in the software.
  • Patron interface remains with the Circulation software, so accessing material from ALS is transparent.


The ALS storage rack is a free standing, four aisle system. Each of the four aisles is a different length ranging from 49 to 61 bays long and 39 tiers high. There are a total of 17,394 book bins, 24 inches wide by 48 inches deep in four different heights (6, 10, 12, & 15). This book bin configuration provides 8 to 12 lineal feet of shelf space per bin, depending on volume size placed in the bins. Individual dividers have added to most of the bins to create multiple compartments within each bin.

  • Each of the book bins has a weight capacity of 500 lbs.
  • ALS is capable of housing 1,800,000 volumes: books, folios, bound periodicals, documents and archive material.
  • The ALS can retrieve bin at a minimum rate of 1.5 minutes