bookBot: The End of Manual Book Searching

I often think back on times where I have gone to my local library, and spent insane amounts of time searching for books to no end. It has become a tedious task that I could presume has had a negative impact on my literary choices. So, as with most modern problems, what is the solution? Automate it.

The building pictured above is the James B. Hunt Library at North Carolina State University. Formally dedicated just recently on April 3, this library features an interesting new feature that book-browsers will appreciate for years to come. The James B. Hunt Library has a method of automating the search for books: robots. The bookBot is a robotic book delivery and storage system which allows users to quickly and efficiently search for the books they are looking for. Students on campus can request books from almost anywhere, and the robotic crane arm will pick it up and deliver it to the front desk. This first eliminates the time necessary to search for a physical book at the library and second gives the convenience of virtual browsing, where people can browse for books online and then directly obtain them thereafter. The books themselves are stored in 18,000 large bins, with barcodes so that the robot knows which books are in each bin. When a request is received, the robot picks up the bin containing the books and delivers it to personnel, to obtain the specified books. The robot delivers and returns all books, so no books are left out of the system. What’s more, because the books are stored in bins in such high density, it is estimated that the James B. Hunt Library stores the number of books with one-ninth the space of other conventional library systems. Now, some people might want to argue that having books delivered loses the appeal of browsing the shelves and finding related useful materials. But this problem was anticipated when the bookBot and its virtual browsing system were developed. Virtual browsing not only allows the requesting of single books, it also has an extensive recommendation system which gives quality related books to the user, covering all bases. Classics may miss the antiquity of browsing the shelves, but for students rushing through research reports and such, this sort of system increases efficiency and reduces costs, making this robot a great read.

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