Library to start robot retrieval system

Robots will soon help students find books at the Marriott Library.

As soon as a student has ordered a book, one of four “cherry-picker robots,” basically a crane on a track, will retrieve the item from the bin where it is stored.

As part of a three-year renovation, the library will install a machine that is capable of retrieving 2 million books and materials at different locations in the facility.

After the machine construction is completed, patrons searching for available items need only sit down at a computer.

“You find books through an online catalog,” said Heidi Brett, library spokesperson. “Instead of walking, you click to request the item.”

Students will be able to order a book from any computer inside the library.

Depending on the number of requests, the wait for students to pick up their books at the library information desk will be anywhere from five to 10 minutes, Brett said.

The library currently has about 1.2 million items-including government documents, part of the special collections, bound periodicals, theses, dissertations and the Original Dewey Collection-that it will store in the Automatic Retrieval Center (ARC), which will be constructed near what is currently the loading dock at the back of the library.

“What we tried to do is pick some materials that aren’t accessed a lot,” said Carol Jost, financial manager of the library.

Storing books in the ARC will cost less money than storing books on traditional library shelves, according to Ian Godfrey, project manager for library renovations.

However, the ARC will not completely replace bookshelves in the library.

“We actually won’t lose a ton of bookshelves,” Jost said.

Well-used sections, including the science, fiction and special collections, will still be stored on library shelves.

Construction of the ARC should be completed next May, Godfrey said.

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