Monday, February 22, 2010

The Red Room: workflow photo tour

(part two in a short series)

In response to questions on the RFID_LIB list, I created a short photo tour of the red room, focussing on the staff side of things: the types of crate used, usability issues we encountered etc.

I've used the full range of Flickr metadata to describe the issues, unfortunately the slideshow doesn't show descriptions by default, and notes not at all. So best viewed as set: Flickr Red Room.

Alternatively, when watching the slideshow, in the options turn 'always show description' on, and watch it fullscreen (bottom right).

The red crates are made of sturdy plastic. When it became clear that custom crates were way too expensive, we settled for industry standard parts in standard sizes, and we adjusted our shelves accordingly. Same for silkscreening the numbers, so we used industrial strength plastic numbers, which turned out very well, in half a year I haven't even seen one beginning of peeling. The lesson learned: don't try to be special, and look outside the box, err, book world.

For staff determining when to add to an existing crate, and when to pick a new, we use these rules-of-a thumb:
  • The display shows a filling % of each existing crate and the # of items inside. This is enough for staff to figure out if there's still room. If not, new crate. If there is:
  • in peak periods, when the number of empty crates becomes small: always add.
  • otherwise, it depends on the day on which the items in the existing crates were added. If the same, we add; if in the past, pick a new.
This way, we have the flexibility to deal with peak periods with slightly more than 1000 boxes; and in less busy times, we can avoid crates with content from multiple days, which makes the workflow for processing of items not picked up more complicated, or forces us to leave the whole box until all items are expired, causing delays for other patrons.

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