Robots Run the Underground Library at the University of Technology in Sydney

Robots run Sydney's University of Technology underground library storage, which houses more than 300,000 books.
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Robots run Sydney's University of Technology underground library storage, which houses more than 300,000 books.
robot library

Photo Credit: ABC

The University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, has a secret hidden under their library at Ultimo. According to the Australian Broadcasting Company, the university has moved 325,000 books underground to store in 12,000 galvanized steel bins. And, the entire thing is being run by six robotic cranes.

Each of the books has a radio frequency tag attached to it. Students can browse for books online or view them as they would on a shelf. They can then place orders for which books they want to borrow, and the robots will collect the items by moving up and down the five-story library.

"What we've done is select the least well-used books — although they can be quickly retrieved — and we've put them in here," said the university's librarian Mal Booth. "That then opens up the library for other purposes. We don't have to cram them onto the shelves so that the thinner ones are lost among the thicker books.

"We've had over 600 requests already, they don't have to look for the book, we'll bring it to them — put it on an open shelf so they can just come and collect it," added the library's access services manager, Sharlene Scobie.

The library still maintains traditional bookshelves with 250,000 books in two libraries. Many of the items include things that aren't available on the Internet.

"We have old journals as well in there. We've got maps. We also have microfilm and things like that, newspapers," Scobie said. "A lot of it's still not digitized so we can still access that and have a look at it."

Completely unique to UTS is the technology used, which is commonly found in airports and and other transport centers.

"It's used to provide spare parts at airports when they're required quite quickly," Booth said. "I've seen them in Woolworths and Coca-Cola Amatil all have facilities that are similar to this."

The facility also has its own moat to keep it protected from flooding, mold and dust.