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New Technology Changes Relationships with Books

The information explosion has created some unique challenges for libraries. How do you keep track of a growing number of books? And where do you store them all without running out of space?By Susan B. Wilson


Kansas City, MO – UMKC's Miller Nichols Library has one solution: librarians have decided to install a book robot.

The Automated Storage and Retrieval System is a four-story system of steel, fire-proof bins connected by ladder-like structures. It uses 1/7th of the space of traditional shelving, and will eventually contain about 80 percent of the library's collection.

When someone requests a book on a computer, it's delivered to the circulation desk in three to five minutes. Library Dean Sharon Bostick says UMKC's new book robot is one of just 18 in the country.

To celebrate the book robot, the Friends of the Library commissioned internationally-acclaimed composer Paul Rudy to create an art installation. Along with UMKC Conservatory doctoral student Scott Blasco, Rudy created what looks look a small brown hut from the outside. It's called The Reliquary.

Follow webcam images of the book robot construction in progress.

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast.

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