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Main Library 800 Vine Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45202–2009 www.CincinnatiLibrary.org
Cincinnati, Ohio Permit No. 3221
TALES F RO M T HE A RCHI VES
Improving customer service—one cylinder at a time
Cylinder for the pneumatic tube.
When the current Main Library building opened its doors in 1955 on the corner of Eighth and Vine streets, it was widely recognized for its contemporary design and use of open space. It also contained a radical innovation—a pneumatic tubing system. When a customer came to the reference desk in a specific department, they would fill out a small slip of paper with the call number or title of the book they wanted to borrow. If the book was in the stacks, the reference staff would put the paper into a cylinder that was approximately 1.5 inches in diameter and 6 inches long. The cylinder was then put into a large tubing system and quickly “whooshed” up to shelving staff. The shelvers located the book and brought it to the department or sent it on the dumbwaiter. A lighted switchboard system would let customers know when to come to the desk and pick up their book. The tubes were used for more than 50 years, but in 2007 the Library replaced pneumatic tubes and electrical switchboards with e-mail. Remnants of the pneumatic tubes remain. You can see the most obvious signs in the Children’s Learning Center.
ALL LIBR ARY LOCATIONS WILL BE CLOSED Thursday, Nov. 24, in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday: Saturday, Dec. 24, and Sunday, Dec. 25, in observance of the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day holidays; and Sunday, Jan. 1, in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday. ALL LIBR ARY LOCATIONS WILL CLOSE AT 6 P.M . ON NEW YEAR’S EVE , SATURDAY, DEC . 31.
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