Like it or not, libraries as we know them are certainly undergoing some radical changes! And not all those changes are heading in the same direction.
While just a few days ago in a post titled: New hi-tech library to do away with books! I reported on Wellington College which intends to rid its library of hard copy books and replace them with eBooks, it seems that other libraries are as equally intent to not only preserve hard copy books but aim to ensure that their students use these books for reference and research purposes.
The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago officially opened for use on May 16, 2011. A stunning architectural construction, this library has the capacity to store 3.5 million books. The difference is that not one book is on display!
Instead, the books, sorted by size, are barcoded to enable tracking of their location and are placed into a storage bin. Each bin holds 100 volumes. A staggering 24,000 bins are stored using automated storage and retrieval system 50 feet (15.24m) underground. Using the library catalogue, users, either locally or anywhere in the world, can place a request for books and within five minutes of making this request the book will be available for pickup!
See how this astounding process works: