Complex Sorting Requirements Made Simple for the University of Manchester

As one of only five National Research Libraries in the UK, the University of Manchester is the respected home to more than four million printed books and manuscripts, as well as over 41,000 electronic journals, 500,000 electronic books, and several hundred databases.

With its reputation as one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the country, the University was in need of a state-of-the-art, fast, and efficient book sorting system to replace the existing, outdated system that had become very unreliable. The new system would need to deliver a reduction in the requirement for staff intervention, and handle a complex sorting routine, that could accommodate different types of media and barcode.

Taking on board these considerations, our recommendation was the Lyngsoe book sorting system. A quiet and economical solution with sophisticated and robust scanning technology.

Lyngsoe Systems products are implemented around the world in public libraries and higher education facilities. Their automated material handling book sorter (AMH), offers advanced system capabilities, complimented by a simple and straight-forward user interface.

Working closely with the University’s estates and IT departments, we were able to ensure the new system fit both within the allocated room space, and met the integral integration needs of the existing library management system. Natasha Viner, Shelving & Stock Management Team Leader, at the University of Manchester Library said “The new system has been so helpful in terms of our processes and has increased capacity, making it much easier for staff. It means at busy times we can trust the system to get on with what it’s supposed to be doing, efficiently. We have peace of mind and really don’t have to worry about it at all.”

Designed for use with both barcode and RFID, the automated material handling book sorter (AMH) was an ideal fit for the University. Users of the library return media through two dedicated return points, where the integrated scanners read and sort the material. The scanners not only read the identification code of the media, but automatically return it into the library management system, as well as sorting it into the relevant secure bin for return to the library floor. All without manual intervention.

The return points are presented as a familiar letterbox design, with each letterbox having an associated touchscreen. The simple user interface is intuitive and easy to use, ensuring a fast and straightforward return. Books are transferred through the letterbox and sorted by the automated material handling book sorter (AMH) into one of eight different sorting points. Each sorting point has a unique allocation, with the eight different sorting criteria assigned during the implementation of the system, in collaboration with the University.

To ensure efficient fulfilment of the University’s role as a National Research Library, a separate staff return location was also implemented, ensuring staff have a dedicated return point, saving them valuable time during busy periods.

Barney Yabbacome, Account Manager for Telepen (Midlands and North UK, NI and Eire), said “Having worked with the University of Manchester for over 20 years, we were pleased to build on our good relationship, with the successful award of this project after a tender process. The priority for the University was to replace the existing outdated self-service book sorter with a more efficient system that would also take up less space within the library. The Lyngsoe AMH system was implemented within the required machine footprint, and enhanced to accommodate increased capacity, ensuring the new installation was successfully able to meet all of the required parameters.”

Since implementation the University are benefiting from a faster circulation of items, a reduction in the required staff input to manage book sorting, and higher capacity management through the introduction of larger book sorting bins, with the added benefit of automated additional bin provision once initial bins are full.

Natasha Viner shared her satisfaction with the new system, saying: “It’s much faster than our previous model, we’re really happy with the machine, happy with the installation and the project was completed on time. Before we got the machine, I went to Liverpool University to see the system in place there, as I knew they were happy with it, and watching it in action was reassuring. Now other universities are approaching and visiting us to talk about our book sorter!“.

You can read more about the Lyngsoe Book Sorting System and the system specifications by viewing the downloadable pdf here.

To find out which solutions Telepen would recommend for your specific requirements and library management system, please get in touch +44 (0)1582 769991 or email