Are Libraries Really Necessary?

E-books, e-readers, online access – perhaps the printed book is going the way of the dodo. Does this mean the death of the public library? Linton Weeks, in this story for NPR, responds to the question with an emphatic “No.” Public libraries function as far more than mere repositories for books. They are community meeting places; they offer language and technology training (free!); they provide computers for research and, yes, for reading e-books that aren’t physically available in the library.

Weeks quotes Tony Marks of the New York Public Library: “Public libraries are arguably more important today than ever before. Their mission is still the same — to provide free access to information to all people. The way people access information has changed, but they still need the information to succeed, and libraries are providing that.”

Given their vital community-services mission, how can libraries be designed to store and present their book collections while simultaneously making space for information-seekers and modern technology? An excellent example is this library in West Tisbury on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where creative storage and shelving have accommodated old tech, new tech, and community events. See the amazing video here.


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Rival Universities Find Texas-Size Savings in Shared Storage

College football fans would be surprised to find The University of Texas and Texas A&M University trading anything other than insults regarding each others’ poor athletic skills, scanty intelligence, and questionable family history. Nevertheless, the two institutions have set aside their rivalry in order to cooperate on something far more important: Saving money.

In 2013, the libraries of UT and A&M inaugurated the Joint Library Facility, an 18,000 square foot facility built to store print books and journals for the use of both schools. The storage facility freed up space in their libraries for high-circulation books, as well as allowing them to eliminate multiple copies of print materials and duplicate journal subscriptions.

In true Texas style, the building site has enough land for two additional buildings. And the cost savings realized through the newly efficient shared storage? Per-volume costs went from $4.26 per year to 86¢ per year. After nearly two years of operation, that kind of money adds up to the sort of oversized savings are always welcome deep in the heart of Texas, or anywhere else.

Fashion Designers’ Workplace Storage: Anything But Uniform

From conservative to outrageous, fashion designers incorporate whatever materials work best for their unique wearable designs. That same approach carries over into the design of their workspace, according to IA Interior Architects’ director of design John Capobianco.

Like many other professionals, fashion designers find that a mixture of private space and collaborative areas works best for them. Unlike some other businesses, however, fashion designers have a need to store objects that are irregular-shaped and bulky. For this, they turn to high-density storage systems with adjustable shelving, accommodating everything from boots to blouses.

Designers also need transformable modular storage that can display dresses one day and shoes the next. As Capobianco puts it in a recent blog post, “It has to be much more user customizable, where you don’t have to hire someone to facilitate the transition.” And when the designs go into production, designers use RFID to track the source materials and finished products, and create databases for their catalogues.

When it comes to practical storage solutions, these wildly imaginative fashion designers have a surprisingly down-to-earth point of view. As with their clothing designs, they find the right storage solutions for their needs and, in the words of fashion icon Tim Gunn, they “make it work.”


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RFID is Tagging and Tracking Those Little Blue Pills

Illegal drugs aren’t the only drug problem in the world. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals have plagued healthcare for decades or more. It’s relatively easy to manufacture “look-alike” tablets and capsules, as well as packaging and bar codes, and it’s a lucrative enterprise for organized crime and corrupt officials. Although it is a crime in most developed countries, counterfeiting isn’t illegal everywhere, and fake medicines enter the supply chain easily. Patients’ health is damaged, and legitimate drug manufacturers suffer a loss of brand trust as well as revenue.

Writing in, Hanna Ostman reports that the FDA now recommends that drug manufacturers include RFID tagging throughout the manufacturing process, from raw ingredients to finished product. This “e-pedigree” gives a drug’s complete history, its composition, dosage, and expiration date. Pharmacists can scan the e-pedigree to make sure they’re dispensing a genuine medicament.

Major pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, Purdu, and Johnson & Johnson, are running pilot RFID projects. Pfizer now includes RFID tags in all its Viagra packages sold in the U.S. Although drug manufacturers have yet to agree on a common standard for RFID tagging, it’s starting to have a positive impact on product confidence and trust for the companies that adopt the technology.


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6 Questions to Ask Before Moving Your Medical Office

[image] Empty nurses station in a hospital.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Failure to plan means planning to fail.” This is doubly true in medical office management, where exam and diagnostic equipment, accessibility, patient records filing systems, and IT systems add extra complexity to the spatial requirements. Careful planning is the key to a successful move or expansion, as cited by Eric Kahn in Medical Economics.

Kahn lists questions that practice managers should address:

  • What’s more important to your practice – price or image?
  • What are your patients’ accessibility needs?
  • How important is parking?
  • How important is public transportation?
  • Does location outweigh other considerations?

An important sixth question to ask: Will your current office furnishings and filing system adapt to a new space?

If your current practice space was built out with modular cabinetry, there’s a good chance the cabinetry and workbenches can make the move. High density filing systems, too, can often be re-installed in a new space. But just as patients should consult with healthcare experts, medical practice managers should consult with real estate, space planning, and furnishings professionals. Good planning will ensure success and save money.

Read Kahn’s full article at:


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Buying A Racking System? The Wrong One Will Cost You Extra

As warehouse management systems become widespread, racks and shelves are delivering efficient space utilization and superior fulfillment speeds. Amazon’s reputation for light-speed deliveries have encouraged other e-tailers to emulate Amazon’s fulfillment productivity. You may be tempted to retrofit your warehouse with used shelving racks, yours or someone else’s, with cost savings in mind.

Writing in Modern Materials Handling, Josh Bond cautions that re-using a racking system can cost far more in the long run. An existing system rarely fits in a new materials-handling design, particularly when you’re looking for space savings and picking efficiency. Enlisting an expert to help you plan for the short term and the long term may seem more expensive at the outset, but you’ll save costly disruptions when it’s time to expand storage capacity or add an automated materials handling system. Read the discussion here:

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How Urban Lifestyle Trends Are Changing Office Interiors

[image]-Skyscrapers in Hong Kong.

In dense urban neighborhoods with small living spaces, multi-function furnishings are becoming the norm. Borrowing from these space-efficient urban homes, office interiors are creating workspace “neighborhoods” and using transformative furniture to increase productivity within compact office footprints. Design magazine ( reports that an architecture firm in Melbourne, Australia, is using customizable furniture to accommodate fluctuations in staffing. In Silicon Valley, Google Garage filled its space with wheeled furniture that can be rearranged to suit changing work activities. In southern California, a community college is using reconfigurable workstations to adapt common areas for multiple uses.

And the payoff for businesses? Cost savings through efficient space utilization and multi-purpose furnishings. If you’re getting ready to switch to multi-function furnishings, we’d love to hear your story.


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7 Keys for Successful Hospital RFID Implementation


With its care- and cost-management potential, RFID is a powerful tool for hospitals. But without the advice of experts, hospital managers can end up using RFID tags to scrape egg off their faces. Insufficient wifi capacity, overly-complex user interface, disruption of patient care routines…the pitfalls are many. Interviewed in, Yedidia Blonder outlines the seven most important planning steps hospital managers should take for successful RFID implementation: The most critical step of all: Consult with an expert vendor.


Got questions? We’ve got answers…


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New Trend: Storing Paper Copies of E-Books

[image]-Laptop computer with colored books

The e-book revolution had us thinking we’d never need bookshelves again, but librarians and digital storage experts are becoming concerned that digital media won’t have the same long-term stability that paper has. After all, paper from ancient Egypt has survived through thousands of years and is still readable today. But as e-readers and other electronic devices evolve, they may “orphan” the current data formats, leaving today’s readers and researchers with nothing but error messages.

The Internet Archive Project is addressing the longevity problem by printing out an archive copy of some 10 million e-books. Although project director Brewster Kahle prefers to discuss the reference value of an original printed work rather than the issue of fragile data, the fact remains that upward compatibility and unstable bits-and-bytes are an ongoing debate. And with storage space requirements of approximately 860 books per pallet, where will the Internet Archive store these millions of books? Read about the plan here:


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Are You Playing Office Tetris?

[image]-Video Game Controller on laptop Computer

They say a rising tide lifts all boats, and as the economy continues to improve, one of those rising boats is commercial office space. Nationally, office rents rose an average of 3% in 2014, and in high-demand areas such as Texas and the Bay Area the increase was over 7%. As job growth surges, the already-low vacancy rate will continue to decline, pushing rents even higher. If you’re in the commercial real estate business, things are looking great for 2015, as Nadja Brandt reports in Businessweek: .

However, if your company is trying to accommodate a workforce expansion without a corresponding office space expansion, you may be playing “Office Tetris” – trying to fit many more desks and filing cabinets into an already crowded office. Rather than renting additional space, some fiscally prudent office managers are turning to high density storage systems and mobile reconfigurable workstations to boost the efficient use of their existing space. This video shows “Tetris cheats” for fitting many workstations into a small space: Now you can put down the game controller and get back to work.


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