Robotic Librarians and No Visible Books at New University of Chicago Library

Originally spotted on Slashdot here, Peter Murray of SingularityHub.com writes:

You enter the 8,000-square foot elliptical Grand Reading Room of the Joe and Rika Mansueto library, admiring the arched dome of glass panels overhead. You walk past the circulation desk, gaze at the stylish furniture and think: Where the heck are all the books?

Murray’s concern has to do with the apparent lack of books in the new library on the University of Chicago campus. Borrowing inspiration from robotic inventory management systems, the University of Chicago buried their books beneath the ground-level reading area topped by a glass dome. A robotic crane ferries books in and out of circulation based on computerized requests by library patrons. Is the way of the future that preserves books rather than destroying them by scanning (as described in Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End)?

In addition to the YouTube video above, you can watch the construction of the library here.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.