Monday, May 30, 2011

Library of the Future: A Visit to the University of Chicago Mansueto Reading Room

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:


  1. funnily enough I work for a construction magazine and an email popped into my work inbox just last week about this building! It took a lot for my not to start drooling at my desk! Unfortunately its a UK mag so I'm not allowed to write about it :(
    I'm so jealous you actually get to go!!

  2. There seems to be quite a bit of buzz about it, amazing it has reached the UK as well. It is very different not having the books all around to wander and browse through, but the space is truly remarkable.

  3. Wonderful pics. My nieces sent me pics of this wonderful library not knowing that I had already been down there and toured. Its amazing!

  4. How wonderful that you got the tour! it wasn't available when we were there. Did you get to go downstairs/underneath the reading room?

  5. Oooooh. That's nice. Robots, automated retrieval...I need one in my house. Glad you enjoyed yourself.


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