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Books Education Robotics Technology Hardware

Robots Retrieve Your Books At U. Chicago's $81 Million Library 202

kkleiner writes "The University of Chicago's new $81 million Joe and Rika Mansueto Library is being referred to as the library of the future. You enter the library and find there are hardly any books, just a large reading room with computers. The library's 3.5 million books are stored inside 35,000 bins stacked within 50 foot tall racks in a massive 5-story chamber underneath the library. When you ask for a book an automated retrieval system involving huge, computer-activated robotic cranes finds the book you want, delivers it to the circulation desk, and eventually puts it back underground when you return it." The age of the personal-shopping library robot is getting closer and closer.
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Robots Retrieve Your Books At U. Chicago's $81 Million Library

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  • Big Deal (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @06:14PM (#36233852)

    We have had one of those at Sonoma State University for about 10 years now.

  • by sackvillian ( 1476885 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @06:32PM (#36234046)

    The library cost a hefty $81 million, but the alternative was expanding the old library's capacity - and that was estimated at $67 million. So for $14 million, the university gets a brand new library with all the prestige and sex appeal of this new, high-tech approach with lower operating costs to boot. And anyway, the library's namesakes donated $25million, an amount that was probably increased by the prospect of the donator's getting to slap their name all over this exciting new building. What I'm saying is that this was a no-brainer for the university in terms of cost/benefit.

    Now, whether you want to trade a building full of beautiful old books which you can peruse at your own convenience, and staffed with generally knowledgeable bibliophiles, for a mechanized building with 5-minute delay times on book requests and far fewer human employees... that's not so straightforward I hope.

  • by toppavak ( 943659 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @07:05PM (#36234348)
    Indeed the long run the robotic library will be cheaper. My alma mater started construction on one [ncsu.edu] just before I graduated and I heard a librarian talking about the new design. Robotic libraries allow a higher packing density (more books per cubic meter), save on climate control (no need to compensate for opening / closing doors, it's underground so well insulated, no windows), require far fewer lights (robots can work in the dark), reduce the number of employees needed to staff the place (a + or - depending on your point of view) among many other long-term cost-savings.