“Watch out, research is about to get even geekier! Not only does the new Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago look like one of the domed ships in “Silent Running,” it’s got a highly automated book storage and retrieval system. The public areas of the library are above ground in a glass and steel dome. But all the books are held underground in a climate controlled area capable of keeping 3.5 million volumes readily accessible. Library patrons email their request to the library and within five minutes the robotic system has found the desired book and sent it up to the pickup area in the reading room. The video below shows the whole process.”
Only one downside as I see it: no browsing the stacks. I’ve found some great authors that way, such as Sherman Alexie (obviously I started at the As). Still, it’s thrilling that this library actually exists and print books are being saved and used. I’m not a Luddite, but I do love me some binded paper.