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About the Knowledge Center: MARS


The automated retrieval system at the UNR Knowledge Center is a robotic system that houses many of the older, low-use books, journals, and other materials. These materials were formerly shelved in the stacks in Getchell Library, Special Collections, the Business & Government Information Center, Life & Health Sciences Library, as well as in the off-site storage facility. 

MARS and Students

Mathewson Automated Retrieval System (MARS) Frequently Asked Questions

What is MARS?

Mars In Action


This is a temperature-controlled, efficient space that enables us to have a lot more open spaces for study, work, and collaboration throughout the Knowledge Center.  Book stacks take up an enormous amount of space, and MARS frees up a great deal of that space.  The system provides quick access to these materials, when compared to other storage options.

What is in MARS?

The basic parameters for what is housed in the automated retrieval system are:

    • Books published before 1995 that have been checked out 7 or fewer times in the last 20 years.MARS retrival
    • Journals that are older than 1 year (1 full year, plus the current year will be kept in browsing stacks).


  • The Permanent Reserve Collection from Getchell.
  • Most of the Special Collections.
  • Most of the government documents.

What is not in MARS?

Excluded from inclusion in MARS are:

  • Pictorial works (books with lots of pictures) in call number ranges N, TR, and TT (art and photography.)
  • Books in call number range F836-F850 (Nevada History)
  • Music scores
  • Certain individual journal and reference titles to be determined by subject specialists and our knowledgeable users.
  • Most of the high use and Nevada-related government documents
  • Other high use materials

Fictional literature is subjected to a different standard:  Books in the literature areas checked out 5 or fewer times and published before 1980 are subject to inclusion in MARS.

How does it work?

A user can submit a request for a book or journal volume by the "Request from MARS" button in the library catalog.  The request sends a signal to the operator to retrieve the item from the storage bin.  Once the system retrieves the bin (containing 50 - 100 volumes) the operator selects the right item and sends it to the circulation desk, where it will be held for the user. The entire process should take no longer then 5 - 10 minutes.

Can I ask more questions or express my concerns?

Absolutely. We know some journals and books may need to be browsed, and there may be other special circumstances. If you have further questions, please see the contact information at the bottom of this page.