January 20, 2022

NY Times: “New York and Seattle Public Libraries Compete in Book-Sorting Battle”

From The NYT:

On Tuesday, Salvatore Magaddino will crank up the “Rocky” theme song and deliver a pep talk. His crew will then have one hour to defend the city’s title as home to “the world’s fastest library-sorting system” (at least according to the trophy) and to break its 2-2 tie with a squad from the King County Public Library in Seattle.

“The adrenaline is outta control,” Mr. Magaddino said.

Mr. Magaddino, a former captain in the New York Police Department, once investigated major crimes and coordinated security for the World Series. Now that he is deputy director of BookOps, a 191-person unit, his job includes finding high-tech ways to manage old-fashioned materials.


Though relations between New York and Seattle are mostly friendly, Dan Landsman, New York’s assistant coordinator for logistics, admitted that he thought about letting “chewing gum fall in some sensitive places” when he visited Seattle this year. Trash talk has gone back and forth between the cities via email since last month. “We take it in stride,” Mr. Miranda said, “unlike our stressed-out, hyped-up East Coast compatriots.”

Last year, the contest’s fifth, BookOps took the title by sorting 12,570 items in an hour, 702 more than the Seattle crew. The outcome was skewed, Mr. Miranda said, by King County patrons’ preference for “stimulating” books that had words “with more than two syllables.”

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See Also: New Zealand: Dunedin City Library’s New Book Sorting System is Utilizing a “World First” Technology (March 7, 2015)

See Also: Meet the King County Library System’s Book Sorting Robot Named “Tin Man” (March 23, 2013)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.