Robot-powered libraries: the future is now

| May 17, 2011

The University of Chicago has a brand new library:

The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, opening next week, is designed to accommodate the way people study and research today — online. The structure’s large spaces are made for computer work and have no traditional bookshelves.

Instead, the library boasts a massive underground storage area holding 3.5 million volumes on 50-foot-high shelves. The collection is managed by robotic systems that help create an environment where scholars can scour the web for hours for academic papers and still get a hard-to-find volume from the stacks.

And, behold, it is a thing of beauty:

Is there anything you’d miss, if we generally moved to more fully automated libraries?