Library of the future - the new UChicago library has a stunning design and functionality

The University of Chicago’s new Mansueto Library is a futuristic bubble of a building that uses an automated retrieval systems that holds the books in steel cases 50 feet below ground.

While many academic libraries are digitizing and moving holdings off site, Manseuto is the largest and latest of about 24 libraries that use the system.

The $81 million Mansueto library (Mr. Mansueto founded Morningstar stock info service) has capacity for 3.5 million volumes.

The Mansueto library is also focused on digitizing its collection and has a lab for both digitization and conservation:

- it mends paper and rebinds the university’s books — some of them papyrus
- it also scans books for its partner, Google Books

It takes 5 minutes for a student to get a book after the request is placed electronically:

- 5 cranes run along parallel tracks; one is activated and locates materials using bar codes

- the crane removes one of the 24,000 containers, each weighing up to 200 pounds and transports it to an elevator, which lifts it to a librarian's desk

Some students apparently like the new library so much that they record poetic videos of "Rain in the Mansueto": "A quick capture of what I think was the first rain storm for the new Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago. My phone's mic really couldn't do justice to the sound, but it was a pretty exciting deep almost-rumble. You also can't capture the immersive fish-bowl-ness of it; it really is all around you. I can't wait for a storm during the day... or a blizzard."


The Bibliotech: Library of the Future, Now. NYTimes.

The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library

Building the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library (video)

The loss of the centuries-old idea of a library building as the place to go to read and to look for information. Johns Hopkins Medical Library Is Closing Its Doors to Patrons and Moving to Digital Model ( and According to the article, Johns Hopkins will transition the current medical librarians to "informaticians" embedded with the clinical teams.

Disclaimer: I am an Allergist/Immunologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Chicago.

Comments from Twitter:

@aptronym: Very impressive but what happens if there's a power outage, eh?

@BiteTheDust: they provide long ladders?

@DrVes: power outage at University of Chicago's Mansueto Library:

@aptronym: Ha! Two weeks after opening and a power outage meant #nobooksforanyone. I always ponder the effects of outages.


  1. The University of Chicago’s new Mansueto Library seems to be amazing. I want to visit it once. The tag line "library of the future" suiting it.

  2. I saw the URL of the library and it seems wow! What a great innovative concept, i loved them all!