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A New Kind of Library

Posted May 18, 2011 3:23 PM

From big think:

Next week, the University of Chicago, will open the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library. The library sits as an addition to the Regenstein Library, next to Henry Moore's "Nuclear Energy" statue (place on the site of the world's first nuclear reactor). From the outside, the new library appears to be a glass dome sitting on the ground. Inside this dome, visitors will find no book shelves and no stacks. Only reading tables in a reading room. It is what is beneath this room that makes the library interesting. Below this reading room is a vault where the books are bar-coded and stored in bins. Because the items are not meant to be browsed, they are not sorted by subject. They are sorted by size in order to maximize the efficient use of each bin. The volumes are searched for online and retrieved by cranes, then delivered to the researcher.

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#1

Re: A New Kind of Library

05/18/2011 8:59 PM

Two comments:

1. The link to bigthink.com === really slow server. Article wouldn't load.

2. This is like a library like a computer hard disk is a photograph. It's not. It's a book storage and retrieval system; a warehouse.

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#2

Re: A New Kind of Library

05/18/2011 11:59 PM

I can see it now: a dozen fortuitous searches empty a bin half out, the rest of the books flop over, and then the return mechanism tries to jam a book into a nonexistent space....

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#3

Re: A New Kind of Library

05/19/2011 1:17 AM

The biggest problem with all of this is that it denies one the opportunity to browse the shelves...

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: A New Kind of Library

05/19/2011 1:49 AM

If opened up to browsing, that would be pretty weird in this library; being sorted by size rather than topic, it would be a random (but perhaps trippy) experience.

(16 volumes of Talmud vs. 1600 mass-market paperbacks of the same?)

Somehow I am now thinking of The Library of Babel, by Jorge Luis Borges.

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#5

Re: A New Kind of Library

05/19/2011 7:56 AM

new library aka great new homeless shelter

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