“Batch handling and paperless reservations have been one of the biggest benefits of IMMS™. Hours are saved by scanning the totes directly to the shelf and by the ability of bulk removal of the holds after they have expired. Despite some initial worries over potential negative patron reactions, we have never received any complaints from users.”
“Before we got IMMS™, we had introduced floating collection for all branch libraries – and in part for the main library. This quickly led to ”overflow problems” at the branch libraries located closest to the inner city, so this was certainly also one of the problems that IMMS™ had to solve for us (and has solved to perfection).”
”IMMS™ is a chance to develop more uniform workflows - and by following these – reap all the advantages of intelligent algorithms.”
Around 2010, Copenhagen Libraries underwent a major Lean project to detect inadequacies in the workflows. It quickly turned out that one of the big time-wasters was that there never was space on the shelves when the books should be put in place. Especially for adult fiction, it was challenging as shelving returns often required entire sections to be shifted around. Another big challenge was the lack of ability to follow the books through the system; once a book was underway, it was hard to know how far it was in the system.
“Before we got IMMS™, we had introduced floating collection for all branch libraries – and in part for the main library. This quickly led to ”overflow problems” at the branch libraries located closest to the inner city, so this was certainly also one of the problems that IMMS™ had to solve for us (and has solved to perfection).” Both shelf management and ”tracking” of materials were already available in commercial warehouse management software, and managers initially hoped that such a commercial program should be able to solve the problems.
However, it quickly turned out not to be possible, as books were being returned to the system over and over again. In 2011, an RFI was published looking for a supplier who would understand both logistics and libraries. Lyngsoe Systems was chosen as the best match, and shortly after, the development of IMMS™ began.
The development of IMMS™ took place in close cooperation between Lyngsoe Systems and the libraries in Aarhus and Copenhagen, with a focus on making the specific library structure of classification dependent physical layout clear to the developers. It was important to make the mobile client easy and intuitive to use for staff while at the same time working as a highly efficient logistics tool that could manage all daily tasks. So the design was crucial. The challenge of how to logically describe a physical library in an app was not small, but it was successfully completed with all shelves in correct walking order and much more.
One of the biggest advantages of IMMS™ is batch management, which came already in the development phase. It saves a lot of time and effort in the entire material handling process to be able to scan a transport box instead of individual copies. When it comes to managing reservations, the time savings are obvious.
Since its inception, IMMS™ has been continuously developed through proposals from Lyngsoe Systems and the user and development group; among other things, the lifecycle module and display module have been introduced as well as many new reports, including a bug report telling if the IMMS™ algorithm indicates that a book is placed on a reservation shelf or exhibition without first being moved from its original location.
The IMMS™ algorithm controls the entire physical material flow in the municipality’s libraries. The most recent books are distributed evenly throughout the system so that all branch libraries can offer them.
After 6 months, there can be category changes (say from popular fiction to just fiction) depending on how many loan days the item has had. IMMS™ always controls the number of items available on the shelves, keeping titles evenly distributed throughout the system (according to parameters set by staff) and placing temporary overflow in an interim storage area – the Media Hotel.
The IMMS™ algorithm knows where the material is best picked. If the book is at home at the branch where it is reserved for pick-up, it must, of course, be picked up there, but otherwise, the algorithm indicates where it will be easiest and quickest to pick. This algorithm is not something the individual branch libraries notice – it just works.
In preparation for a potential reopening return boom after complete closure due to COVID-19, the distribution algorithm was adapted so the filling level in all the city libraries, regardless of local wishes for shelf fill level, could be increased centrally. This meant that all the books could be stored on the regular shelves of the local libraries and at the existing Media Hotel. No extra space was needed.
The emergency plans had involved extra media hotels and an expectation that the materials could eventually end up in mail carts, but this did not become necessary. The reopening took place with reduced opening hours, where users had to book an appointment. At the same time, the library introduced a fine exemption for one month, so that the submissions were spread over many days and everything worked seamlessly.
Copenhagen Libraries have plans to move Media Hotel and the central sorting facility to new premises, where the AMH will be expanded to 100 chutes, and the Media Hotel enlarged to 150,000 items. Prior to the move, it will be decided which item categories to move.
As the IMMS™ lifecycle module ensures that the shelves are not filling up with old unused items, the next step is to investigate material groups with less spontaneous user interest – i.e., groups wherein lending primarily occurs through the reservations.
Books circulated almost solely through holds will be placed in the Media Hotel as picking from there is much faster and more efficient; at present, it is possible to pick up to 285 items per hour.
Copenhagen Libraries (KKB) is the name of Copenhagen Municipal libraries and, with 194,440 active users, it is the largest municipal library system in Denmark. In 2018 the circulation was 2,567,855 from a collection of 971,059 items.
KKB consists of Copenhagen Main Library, 19 branch libraries, and 2 special libraries (Copenhagen University Hospital and Copenhagen Prison). The Copenhagen Libraries also services a large number of nursing homes in Copenhagen. The municipal institution was founded under the name Copenhagen Municipal Public Libraries in 1885, inspired by Paris and Berlin, and opened on November 7, 1885, with six branch libraries and two reading rooms.