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The robots helping you return your library books

If you’re a regular at Springfield Central Library, chances are you’ve been served by a robot.

The Automated Materials Handling (AMH) returns system is a robot known as ‘Amy’.

She handles hundreds of returns every day and makes life easier for library staff by sorting items into the right bins to speed up shelving and processing.

Here’s how it works:

Items returned through the chute have their RFID (radio frequency identification) tags read by sensors and are returned automatically from the customer’s account.

The computer system that drives Amy then checks the Library Management System to find out more information about the item.

Based on a sorting matrix that’s been set up, the item then moves along Amy’s conveyor belts.

When the item reaches the correct bin, the belt shifts direction to slide the item into the bin, grouping items from the same area in the same bins to make it faster and easier for staff to re-shelve items.

Amy also helps staff when crates of books and other items are delivered each day from other branches that need to be checked in and sorted before being shelved or made available to the customers who have requested them.

Other robotic machines at Ipswich Libraries include Bee-bots, which are used to teach basic coding for children, 3D printing machines and Augmented Reality technology as part of the Ipswich Libraries MakerSpace.

The SmartLocker also allows library members to return books or collect reserved items outside library opening hours.

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