THE University of Chicago’s new Joe and Rika Mansueto Library is a futuristic bubble of a building with nary a stack in site. Many of its nearly one million items — special collections, journals, dissertations, documents — can be accessed online.
But while many academic libraries are digitizing and moving holdings off site, Manseuto is the largest and latest (of about two dozen libraries) to add automated storage and retrieval systems. Volumes are housed in solid steel cases about 50 feet below ground. Should someone want to actually touch the real thing, books are delivered through a labyrinthine system of cranes and elevators. Picture the door-sorting machine from Pixar’s “Monsters Inc.” The $81 million Mansueto (Mr. Mansueto founded Morningstar) has capacity for 3.5 million volumes, freeing space in the cramped stacks that students browse at the main library. And in apt example of the tug and pull on today’s library, Mansueto has a lab for both digitization and conservation. It mends paper and rebinds the university’s books — some of them papyrus — when it’s not cleaning and preparing materials for scanning, some for its partner, Google Books.  

 

HOW IT WORKS:

1. Book is requested using online catalog.

2. Five cranes run along parallel tracks; one is activated and locates materials using bar codes.

3. Crane removes appropriate container — one of nearly 24,000, each weighing up to 200 pounds — and transports it to an elevator, which lifts it to the resource desk.

4. Human retrieves and scans book’s bar code, initiating e-mail notification to student.

Time elapsed: Five minutes or less.        

Click here for the New York Times article written by Jaywon Choe. 

LAW LIBRARY level 3: KJE6456 .K45 2011 Bert Keirsbilck, The New European Law of Unfair Commercial Practices and Competition Law (Oxford: Hart Pub., 2011). LAW LIBRARY level 3: K3242 .S627 2011 Nicholas Mark Smith, Basic Equality and Discrimination: Reconciling Theory and Law (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011). LAW LIBRARY level 3: K5018 .B34 2011 Dennis J. Baker, [...]

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