With over 2,976 full-time undergraduate students attending the University of Richmond at any one time, the Admissions Office is always a busy place. Between senior graduations and freshman applications, the admissions office has over 6500 files they need to keep immediately accessible to select staff while remaining confidential. Finding a solution to provide safe and easy file access to staff members and security to keep the files confidential was a lesson in itself. 


Situated on 350 acres six miles from downtown Richmond, Virginia, the University of Richmond offers a blend of academic programs, featuring 108 majors, minors and concentrations. A staff of 312 full-time faculty members provides students with a premier, private, liberal arts university featuring primarily undergraduate programs, with a few graduate programs in arts and sciences, business and law.


The admissions office previously operated with 820 square feet of lateral filing cabinets, using the entire bottom row of filing space for storage. The entire top row of filing space, being unreachable for some office staff, was not used at all. With files difficult to locate, unsecured and wasted space apparent, the admissions office decided it was time to find a better solution.


After considering mobile shelving, the University’s purchasing agent went with two MegaStar System’s Electric Later Filing Systems (ELF) with roll-out drawers. The ELFs provided safety features, higher productivity levels and increased security options. “We liked that these systems addressed important concerns for us, such as the safety of our staff and the security of confidential files.” said Carole Mitchell, Operations Manager in the Admissions Office. “In addition to safety and security, we’ve also seen a huge increase in efficiency and staff productivity.


Purchasing the two MediaStation ELFs solved a three pronged problem for the University by improving staff safety, providing greater file security and increasing staff productivity. After the ELFs were installed, staff no longer needed to bend over or reach up to access files. Staff members are now able to simply push a button and have the file presented to them at an ergonomic level, providing safe and easy access to student files at all times.


Accessing files without reaching, bending or twisting was not the admissions office only concern, so was the security of the confidential files. With its bi-parting doors, the ELF can be locked up at night or whenever the university staff feels the need to secure confidential information stored in the MediaStation ELFs. The system’s Safety Information Panel (SIP) lets admission staff know that the system is ready to operate at a glance. “The SIP on the ELF helps me know what is going on with the system,” Carole said. The SIP communicates information with a familiar traffic light design to quickly convey the status of the system to the operator. If a drawer is left slightly open and someone pushes a button, the system will not operate unless the drawer is closed. Once the drawer is completely closed, the system shows the green light which means it is ready to operate.


Improving the ergonomics of the filing system went a long way in improving staff productivity. The university uses top tab file folders to hold student records. “Previously stored in the lateral drawer filing system from side to side, the information on the tab of the folder was difficult to read. Now, with the new ELFs, these top tab folders are presented front to back, allowing easy access and improved legibility of the folder tab. This is a distinct advantage,” said Carole. “Before the ELFs, we were always cranking our necks around sideways to see the information on the top tab, now we can see the folder tabs easier, helping us to locate the file much quicker.” 


The MediaStation ELF’s roll-out drawers and overhead light provide easy-to-read access to the correct folders. The included work counter creates a convenient working space right at the MediaStation for quick re-filing. “The admissions staff access over 6500 files each day and having to search for the files can be time consuming,” she added. “Now the files come right to us with the push of a button. I just don’t know how we ever got along without the ELFs!”


Although the university primarily looked for safety and security in a filing system, the purchase of the ELFs saved the admissions office 50% of previously used floor space. “We used up two entire walls for lateral filing cabinets before we got the ELFs,” Carole said. The admissions office went from using 820 square feet to using only 414 square feet for filing needs using the ELFs.