Library robots

Libraries have always been at the forefront of adopting new technology, but their innovations usually have something to do with organizing and retrieving information. The online library catalog is a good example. Now some libraries are borrowing technology from manufacturing: robots that shelve and retrieve physical books. It may come as a surprise to some people that printed books are still such a big deal to academic libraries. After all, much of formerly huge reference collections has been replaced by online databases. Long runs of many important journals and other periodicals are likewise available as full text online. Ebooks have … Continue reading

Circ staff: the most visible people at the library

It’s not hard to go in and out of the library without speaking with most of the library staff, but it is hard not to see any of them. I’d like to say that you’ll see a reference librarian, but some libraries have decided to do away with a regular reference desk. You’ll see reference librarians at those libraries, but not necessarily know who they are. Even if you don’t check anything out, you’ll recognize some library staff right away: the people who check out library materials. They still work behind a desk, probably very close to the door. The … Continue reading

Libraries nourish creativity

“One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out” — Jeff Bezos So how to you go about inventing your way out of a tight box? It requires curiosity and creativity. Libraries themselves have been in a tight box lately. For centuries, they have functioned mostly as repositories of information. Rightly or wrongly, society seems to be coming to the conclusion that it does not need repositories any more. For the past several decades, libraries have been reinventing themselves into idea factories. Why did society start building large collections of books … Continue reading