Super library opens in Katowice

On Friday, rectors of the University of Silesia and the University of Economics in Katowice officially opened the Scientific Information Center and Academic Library (SICAL). The design prepared by HS99 and the applied solutions – including an RFID technology – make the building probably the most modern library in Poland.

Scientific Information Center and Academic Library
Scientific Information Center and Academic Library

“This project puts us on an equal footing with other scientific units of the globe” – Prof. Wiesław Banyś, rector of the University of Silesia, said during the opening ceremony.

The SICAL is going to serve as a most modern Polish scientific library and comprehensive source of information for students, scientific workers and general public. It is a place where tradition meets innovation. Except traditional printed books and other publications, a large part of the resources will be available on-line. Users will choose between databases, audiovisual material and multimedia content.

Printed books can be ordered remotely or will be attainable in the building through open access. Information desks and desktop computers are put at visitors disposal, however books will be possible to borrow without any assistance thanks to so called self-checks. The borrowed volumes can be returned using a round-the-clock book drop that reminds a cash dispenser accessed from outside the building.

The comfortable self-service borrowing system operates thanks the RFID technology (radio-frequency identification) with RFID hardware. As a result, all items of the book collection are identified with a chip label in radio technology, which automates the work of librarians, especially in coordinating the process of lending and handling returned items. Taking also into account that 340 000 items of the collection is currently available in the open access, the RFID technology enables also protecting the collections from their unauthorized removal from the Library.

Furthermore, the special device for self-return of books – the book drop – is a mechanical depository operating in the RFID technology, provided with a locking slot and connected with a belt conveyor, sorting books into five zones and provided with a trolley for returned books. This is the most modern device of this kind in Poland. Integrated IT devices called WiFi-RFID Bookview – all-in-one computers extended with RFID readers for MIFARE cards and RFID labels placed on books are an innovative solution deployed in the SICAL. The device provides information about new books purchased by the Library.

Aside from the latest technologies, the Library offers its users conference rooms, several carrels for individual work, computer and multimedia rooms, learning lab, seminar and reading rooms, special collection study room, current press room and devices like prints, copy and scan.

First three storeys of the SICAL are opened for users. About 80 percent of the first and the second floor is predicted for an unlimited access to the publications. The underground floor and last three floors are destined for a stuff use and magazines.

  • Numbers of the Scientific Information Center and Academic Library:
  • – 7 storeys including one under the ground
    – more than 12 000 sq. meters of usable area
    – 63 000 cubic meters
    – 54 kilometers of book shelves
    – 340 computers and terminals
    – 120 workers
    – ability to house 1 000 users at one time
    – one book drop and six self-checks
    – 800 000 books and magazines of which 340 000 are available within an unrestricted access
    – another 1,2 million volumes possible to be stored
    – 4 004 cavity windows
    – 21 months of construction works
    – total cost: PLN 85,16 million including construction works and equipment

The Library is located at 11a Bankowa St. and was built in place of a first Polish artificial ice-rink called “Torkat” that had been erected in December 1930. The Scientific Information Center and Academic Library (Polish acronym: CINiBA) is a joint project of the University of Silesia and the University of Economics in Katowice.