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Government Information: Alkek Library Compact Shelving

Welcome to Alkek Library's Government Information unit. This guide was created to assist researchers who might use publications or resources published by the federal or state government.

Compact Shelving Video

This video demonstrates how to operate the compact shelving in Government Information on the 4th floor of the Alkek Library.

Compact Shelving FAQ

Q - I keep pushing buttons, but nothing is happening. What am I doing wrong?

A - The compact shelving works best if you push a button once, then wait for the shelving to complete whatever action you have initiated. Pushing buttons repeatedly can cause the system to lock up.  The best solution is to wait a few minutes, then try again.

 Q - I turned off the stop lights next to the open aisle, so why can't I open a new aisle?

A - There are four sections of compact shelving, each with its own wiring system. Be sure that all stop lights are turned off in the section you want to use.  The sections are color coded to make it easy to see which stop lights you need to turn off.

Q - I turned off all the stop lights in the maroon section, but it's still not moving.  Now what?

A - There may be something blocking the laser beam in the open aisle. The laser beams are safety features and run along the base of one shelf in every aisle.  Check to see if a book or other object is in the way. If there is, put the item on a table where a Gov Info staff member can find it and return it to its proper location.

Q - The shelves started to move, but then they stopped when they were only halfway open.  Now what?

A - Check to be sure there isn't someone or something in the original aisle.  Then turn off every stop light in the section and try again. Note: if you were moving a large number of shelves, there may be a large number of stop lights to turn off.

Q - I have a question that isn't in the FAQ.  Who can help me?

A - Please ask a Checkout Desk (3rd floor) or Ask Alkek staff member (2nd floor) for help.  


The compact shelving has the following automatic safety features: 

Whenever a new aisle is opened, the STOP lights on either side of the aisle turn on to prevent the aisle from closing.

Entering or exiting an aisle breaks a light beam which activates the STOP lights.

Likewise, breaking the path of the laser beam that runs along the base of one shelving range in each aisle will activate the STOP lights.

Finally, the shelving will automatically stop when there is any added resistance, which can be applied by leaning against a moving shelving range.

For your safety and that of others, please do not tamper with or activate safety sensors except in an emergency.


Compact shelving

Moveable shelving ranges that enable the library to store a large number of items in a compact space.


There are four separate sections of compact shelving in Gov Info. Each section has its own wiring system, works independently from the other three sections, and is color-coded (MAROON or GOLD).

Shelving range

There are 11 moveable shelving ranges within each section of compact shelving, with one stationary range on either end. Because they don't move, the stationary ranges do not have control panels.

Control Panel (see illustrations)

Each control panel has a STOP button, which can be used to stop a moving shelving range in an emergency. 

The two unmarked buttons on either side of the STOP button are pressed to open a new aisle on either side of the control panel. Green arrows will light up when the unmarked buttons are pressed to open a new aisle.

The Lock and Key display at the top of each control panel may be activated by staff when a shelving range is malfunctioning.

Need help?

If you are experiencing difficulties accessing items in compact shelving, please call one of the contact numbers in this guide, or read the Compact Shelving FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). 

Control Panel STOP Button

Always check to be sure the STOP lights are lit on either side of an aisle before entering the shelving to be sure the shelving will not move.

If you want turn off the STOP lights to open a new aisle, check first to be sure there is no one standing in the aisle.

Control Panel Unmarked Buttons to Open a New Aisle

Pressing the unmarked button on the left of the control panel will open a new aisle to the left. 

Likewise, pressing the unmarked button on the right of the control panel will open a new aisle to the right. 

If the shelving does not move when you press a button, check to be sure that all STOP lights are off in the section and that no one is standing in an open aisle.