Randtriever

A part of the Randtriever has been set up in the bridge in front of the entrance to the University Library. The Randtriever was the book robot, which operated in the depository of the library between 1969 and 2014.

It was one of the most notable technical innovations in the Dutch library world and a precursor of the distribution systems now used by Bol.com or Amazon, for example.
The installation consisted of eight aisles with bookcases storing 220,000 books. An electronically-controlled 'master column' roamed through the aisles, retrieving and returning containers with books. The book containers were transported to and from the study area through a system of conveyer belts. A requested book could be delivered by the system in ten minutes. The Randtriever was dismantled during the renovation of the library in 2015. Due to the decline in book borrowing, the complex system was no longer profitable.

The Randtriever was originally developed by the American firm Remington Rand and the University Library. It took quite some time to get the system working flawlessly. In the early years the Randtriever could only be used for a few hours a day, due to recurring mechanical-electrical problems. This obviously was not very efficient. At the end of the 1970s the Randtriever was completely renovated. The system became computer-controlled and better secured against malfunctions and breakdowns.

The Rotterdam Randtriever was the only one ever built in Europe. In America, the use of this system was also limited to some smaller systems, which all were decommissioned by the end of the 1980s. The principle of a mechanical transport system controlled by computer, however, did generate a great deal of interest in the international library world.

In 2012, a film was made explaining the operation of the Randtriever (Dutch only).

Read more?

Gerard Frishert, Monument Woudestein. Cultuurhistorische verkenning deel 5: waardestelling Randtriever, 2e druk, Rotterdam 2019.

Leen Meyboom, ‘The Randtriever at Erasmus University, Rotterdam 1969–1990: two decades of change in mechanical books storage", Library Hi Tech 8 (1990) nr. 3, pp. 83-85 

Marko de Haan, ‘Waarom dat apparaat in de UB-luchtbrug zo bijzonder is’, Erasmus Magazine 19 maart 2019

Randtriever, 1969-2014