Robots, Not Humans, Retrieve Your Books at $81 Million Library of the Future

Robots, Not Humans, Retrieve Your Books at $81 Million “Library of the Future”
The answer to your question–the books are tightly packed in bins stacked five stories high beneath your feet–is the reason University of Chicago’s new Joe and Rika Mansueto Library is being referred to as the library of the future. An automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) involving huge, computer-activated robotic cranes find the book you want, deliver it to the circulation desk, and eventually return it back underground.


that seems like overkill when we are told that everything will/should be digitized and electronic in a few years.

but I'm glad someone is planning for the future after the future. the future after the future is when all the digital books degrade of become corrupted and inaccessible due to hardware failure or human error or intentional destruction.

the future after the future will be about books.

also, you'd think libraries would just begin digitizing their collections anyway as "fair use" backups. and then when possible, release the digitized texts back into the wild. and with computers being to do so many amazing things, why can't we digitize books by scanning through the covers? by using some form of x-ray that can see all the printed characters and then use software to separate the letters into words by calculating the depth into the book and the thickness of the paper?
it seems like there could be some bulk scanning machine invented that needs no page turning.


It's a return to the early days of libraries, when you looked through a catalog, filled out a request form, then took the form to a teller window where someone would then retrieve the book for you. No browsing, no serendipitous discovery. Very sad.

I'm as pro-browsing as anybody, but it's important to remember that this new library does not replace the existing 4.4-million-volume library, it expands it. There will still be more than four million browsable volumes--but with lots more room for on-site compact storage as the print collection expands, a whole lot better than a remote shared facility with once-a-day paging.

As to the story itself...sigh. The Inevitable Death of All Print Books and Libraries As We Know Them would be amusing if it wasn't so old and predictable. Of course, on a site called "Singularity Hub" one hardly expected a nuanced view of a future with many media and methods sharing space--that it's All Digital All The Time is exactly what you'd expect.

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