Case Story: Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville

When the AMH system became an aesthetic focal point in the main library of Caen la Mer

“The ambiance of the library entrance hall is quite industrial. Having that big robot settled here, settled on two levels behind a big window, allowed us to show how the librarians work, how the books are received and explain how they are put back in the different parts of the library. When I explain it to our users, I often compare it to the story of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, by Roald Dahl.”

Brodie Quitterie, Supervisor, User Services, La Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville

About the library

The Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville is the main library for the region of Caen la Mer in France. Early 2017 the construction of the 135,000-square-foot multimedia library was finished, becoming a new public center for the city. In their opening weekend, they had 15,000 visitors and in one day 4,000 loans were recorded, breaking their previous record of 800 in one day.

The challenge​

Needing to increase staff and patron efficiency as well as fit into the new, rem koolhaas-designed building

The library is a newly-built, industrial-style building, and the sorting area is in an irregular space divided between two floors, surrounded by a glass wall. The challenge was to increase staff and patron efficiency with an appealing, “on the stage” look and feel to all components.


The solution

Color customized sort mate and a seamless transition from public returns to the sorting system

Lyngsoe Systems worked with library staff and the architect firm, OMA, to develop a solution that maximized the benefits of the Lyngsoe Sort Mate™ and Lyngsoe Library Mate™ while maintaining an aesthetic appeal. The result was a full AMH Sort Mate 2000 solution in customized colors to match the library décor, Library Mate inductions that complement the modern design, and a seamless transition from public returns to the sorting system.

Books returned at the Library Mate inductions in the circulation area are carried via a unique, textured conveyor belt down to the Sort Mate sorting system on a lower level. Lyngsoe Ergo Trolleys™ save staff from lifting and carrying high numbers of books on busy days, giving them time to interact more meaningfully with patrons. Every component of the system is customized in deep gray and warm white colors to match the aesthetics of the building.



Multi-floor sorting machine as a focal point of the entrance hall

The flexibility of the Sort Mate module system accommodated an unusual and awkward multi-floor space entirely visible to the public.

Materials can be returned a floor above the sorting space with no additional work by staff.

Custom colors and aesthetically appealing intake kiosks complement a high-profile, high-concept design.

The Lyngsoe Systems team successfully bridged physical and linguistic barriers and communicated between architects, librarians, and technical teams in Caen to manage a complex install.


The results

Increased staff efficiency as well as original and aesthetic sorting of materials

The library wanted something new that would match the eye-catching semi-industrial design of their new building and add to the sense of user-focused, inclusive services that inspired the architecture. In addition to creating efficiencies for staff, the library wanted to invite the public to learn more about how a library functions, to include them in the process of moving materials around the building.

“Lyngsoe Systems seemed to present an original and quite aesthetic way to make it possible,” says Brodie Quitterie, Supervisor of Users Services at the library. “We also were aware that they had worked for American and Nordic libraries that inspire French libraries a lot in their ways to be fluid and efficient.”

By automating materials return and sorting, the staff is free to spend more time welcoming users to the library, helping them find what they are looking for, and work on improving services and programs.

Watch a video from the library