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One New Thing
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
One New Thing: Open vs. Closed stacks.

Reading a bunch of things via my Bloglines I saw this link fly by…Will Robots Kill Joy of Browsing? It’s about a library that is automating the retrieval of books in closed stacks.
I hope this idea makes more than a few librarians nervous, and no, not because we might suddenly become less useful! No matter how brilliant cataloguing is, there will always be items that clients and librarians will not pick up in a search of the catalogue but will find on the shelves between two other useful items. Can a robot find those? Automation such as this could do wonders for space problems, I imagine, but I’m wondering how the researchers that use this library will find it. Or not find it, as the case may be!
Also, what happens if technology gremlins strike? “I’m sorry, you can’t have that book…yes, it’s checked in, but the robot is down for maintenance.”
I’d love to see this sort of system in action, actually. Anyone going to be demonstrating this at a tradeshow near me sometime? :)

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