We had the pleasure of visiting the new Joe and Rika Mansueto Library reading room at the University of Chicago. The architecture is stunning inside and out, and the interior space is lovely and serene. The library has a capacity to hold the equivalent of 3.5 million volumes, which are stored to a depth of fifty feet underground, grouped by size rather than subject matter, and retrieved by "high density automated storage and retrieval system" - a.k.a. ROBOTS! The new library also includes conservation and digitization laboratories (you can see some of the equipment if you peek through the glass dividers on the far side of the reading room - I would have loved to seen the conservation lab in action).
Views from the outside.
This excellent video from the University introduces the library and explains how the books are stored and retrieved.
An exhibit of lead silhouette interpretations of historic printers marks lines the hallway leading from the old Regenstein Library to the new Mansueto Library. The silhouettes were created for (and gifted to the library by) the Chicago publisher RR Donnelly. As you can see in the photo above, they are finely crafted - in person they look similar to delicately punched tin- and look beautiful when lit from behind.
For more information about the Mansueto Library visit: www.mansueto.lib.uchicago.edu.