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Traka transforms key control at the British Library

Electronic key management specialist Traka has provided the British Library with a key control system for some of its important historical collections.

The British Library is home to over 150 million items and houses some of the most important documents and manuscripts in the world including the Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci's Notebook, The Times first edition and the Beatles' manuscripts. Whilst the Library's priceless collections are stored in highly secure environments, other less valuable items are accessible to authorised staff on a day-to-day basis via issued keys.

Until recently, keys were controlled and monitored by means of a paper-based, sign-in/sign-out system, but the sheer number of keys issued each day meant the system was time-consuming and cumbersome. Security staff at the Library were keen to improve the efficiency of key management in order to reduce staff time wasted by visits to the key room. A Traka electronic key control system seemed the ideal way forward.

Traka's electronic key cabinets include 'iFobs', to which keys are attached. Each iFob contains a chip which gives the key a unique electronic ID, effectively electronically tagging it and enabling each user to be individually audited. Versatile operating software records each time the cabinet is accessed and by whom, ensuring that keys have been taken by authorised staff and placing full accountability for the key with the user. Access to the cabinet can be controlled by PIN number, access card or biometrics. The appearance of the cabinets is smart and inconspicuous, allowing them to be displayed anywhere, particularly important in a prestigious building such as the British Library.

Through efficient preparation and staff training, the Traka system was quickly and effectively integrated into the Library. Employees can now obtain keys on the way to their offices, without having to spend time going up to the key room and completing paperwork.

The Traka system functioned from the minute it was installed and has done exactly what it was designed to do. Prior to Traka, 200 users were accessing the key room twice a day, taking up not only their own time but also that of security officers. Significantly, Traka has saved over 400 time-consuming visits to the key room every day. The Library is also thrilled with the after-sales support: no problem is too big or too small – any queries have been dealt with very positively and promptly by the Traka support team.

Traka MD John Kent worked closely with the British Library project and knows how important it is to adapt each system to suit the customer's needs: “Every organisation has its own requirements and it is important that we understand these issues. Installing a Traka system is often combined with the introduction of new procedures, which in turn can improve security, health and safety plus, as with the British Library, efficiency.”

The British Library receives a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland and stores material ranging from 300 BC to today's newspapers. More than 16,000 people use its resources every day and nearly 400,000 people a year visit its Reading Rooms. The Library serves business and industry as well as academia, both in the UK and worldwide.

The Traka system has evolved from years working closely with some of the world's largest corporations. It is in use around the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and the company continues to work on the ongoing development of the system as new improvements and technologies arise. Traka is used extensively in the UK and over 25 other countries in many different market sectors. These include Distribution and Materials Handling Management; Fleet Management; Property Access Control (for instance in prisons, hospitals, hotels and schools); Casinos; Petrochemical and Mining; Airports, Docks and Railways plus Military and Emergency Services.

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