Caching in Public Libraries

...libraries are a natural example of a memory hierarchy when used in concert with our own desk space. In fact, libraries in themselves, with their various sections and storage facilities, are a great example of a memory hierarchy with multiple levels. As a consequence, they face all sorts of caching problems. They have to decide which books to put in the limited display space at the front of the library, which to keep in their stacks, and which to consign to offsite storage. The policy for which books to shunt offsite varies from library to library, but almost all use a version of LRU. “For the Main Stacks, for example,” says Beth Dupuis, who oversees the process in the UC Berkeley libraries, “if an item hasn’t been used in twelve years, that’s the cutoff.”

At the other end of the spectrum from the books untouched in a dozen years is the library’s “rough sorting” area, which we visited in the previous chapter. This is where books go just after they are returned, before they’re fully sorted and shelved once again in the stacks. The irony is that the hardworking assistants putting them back on their shelves might, in some sense, be making them less ordered.

Here’s why: if temporal locality holds, then the rough-sorting shelves contain the most important books in the whole building. These are the books that were most recently used, so they are the ones that patrons are most likely to be looking for. It seems a crime that arguably the juiciest and most browseworthy shelf of the libraries’ miles of stacks is both hidden away and constantly eroded by earnest library staff just doing their jobs.

Meanwhile, the lobby of the Moffit Undergraduate Library—the location of the most prominent and accessible shelves—showcases the library’s most recently acquired books. This is instantiating a kind of FIFO cache, privileging the items that were last added to the library, not last read.


Folksonomies: metaphor computer science

/technology and computing/hardware/computer components/memory (0.807075)
/technology and computing/operating systems (0.739321)
/art and entertainment/books and literature (0.693807)

Public library (0.956179): dbpedia_resource
Library (0.902077): dbpedia_resource
Locality of reference (0.821864): dbpedia_resource
Librarian (0.805646): dbpedia_resource
Cache (0.720110): dbpedia_resource

 Algorithms to Live By
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Christian, Brian (April 19th 2016), Algorithms to Live By, Henry Holt and Co., Retrieved on 2021-09-27
Folksonomies: computer science algorithms optimization optimal living