NCSU Hunt Library: I want to live there

02 Oct

I skimmed through all of the links for this module’s “Choose your own Adventure” choices, and really quickly got stuck on one about Hunt Library’s bookBot. I found myself down a rabbit hole of videos and articles about the book delivery system, which led me to even more articles and videos about the expansiveness and usefulness of the Hunt Library itself. It’s absolutely mindblowing to me that someone could think of such a sophisticated system where books are stored not on shelves, but in climate-controlled bins where the bookBot will retrieve or deposit what’s needed. Within minutes of a request, a person can get the book they want to check out while watching the bookBot at work through a viewing wall!

Obviously, the bookBot is what drew me to learn more about the library, but I immediately began to wonder how the expanded study and learning spaces affected the library setting, and if the students felt much more likely to visit the library to study instead of their dorm or elsewhere. In order to encourage students to use the library, there are a number of different spaces and rooms that can be used in a variety of different ways. These include:

  • Creativity Studio—a flexible, “white box” space that can be reconfigured and transformed to support a variety of activities in many disciplines, with high-definition, 3D-capable projectors; movable and writable walls; a full theater lighting kit; and many interactive tools that can be configured for simulations and virtual environments.
  • Teaching and Visualization Lab—a “black box” for high-definition visualization and simulation, offering seamless 270-degree immersive projection on three walls for a total of 80 linear feet of display surface, 3D display, a professional zoned audio system, and cameras for real-time video capture, broadcast, and collaboration.
  • Game Lab—supports the scholarly study of games at the university, where students can also take a break and play for fun. With multiple video gaming stations and a large display, this is one of the Hunt Library’s liveliest spaces.
  • iPearl Immersion Theater—a 21 x 7-foot curved display wall that engages viewers in panoramic imagery and showcases the work of students and faculty.
  • Video Seminar Room—features a telepresence video collaboration suite to facilitate meeting with others anywhere in the world.
  • Fishbowl—a seminar room uniquely designed to promote the open exchange of ideas. It offers a multi-touch display and transparent walls that allow others to experience the activities taking place inside.
  • Faculty Research Commons—a comfortably furnished space for faculty to engage in both individual and collaborative work, and to connect with colleagues from other departments and disciplines.
  • Graduate Student Commons—designed specifically for graduate students, with lounge seating, open study spaces, group study rooms, computer workstations, and lockers.
  • Makerspace—create working prototypes, architectural models, and other objects with tools including 3D printers, a 3D scanner, and a laser cutter. “If you can draw it, you can make it!”
  • Skyline Reading Room and Terrace—the pinnacle of the Hunt Library, at the highest point on campus, with inspiring views and abundant natural light.
There are 75 different styles of chairs in over 100 colors in the library

One thing that seems to help students, in addition to the different spaces available, are the different chairs and seats available to sit in. Each person and whatever they’re working on can possibly be done even better in a specific posture, and so the library makes the space even more personalized by giving students so many options to choose from.

Okay, so what do all of these things have to do with the hyperlinked library? Of course, there are the obvious points: the many ways that technology is integrated into the library, including how the books are stored and retrieved. But there are so many things that other libraries can learn from the Hunt Library, from large to small in terms of changes made. Different styles of seating could be brought in, instead of every single chair being the exact same. Different table heights, each room having a different function that could be utilized in different ways. Not many libraries would be able to afford to incorporate the bookBot, but imagine if they could, and the amount of space they would have to fit their own personalized community’s needs even more!

Something that I wonder, though, is even with all of this technology and the innovativeness of the space — is the Hunt library going to continue to change every decade or so, or as needed, to stay on top of the technology game? Are they going to help lead libraries into the future? How long until the technology they utilize in rooms such as the Fishbowl is outdated? If technology continues to move as quickly as it has in the past few decades, who knows what could happen. What I do know, though, is there will always be libraries that continue to stay innovative, because librarians will refuse to let libraries become useless.


Posted by on October 2, 2019 in Reflections


7 Responses to NCSU Hunt Library: I want to live there

  1. James L

    October 3, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    I loved the last paragraph in your reflection so much. Librarians and others in the information profession are determined to keep libraries relevant. That list of spaces and the reasoning behind them are extremely impressive, I’d love to visit it someday.

  2. Melina Dabney

    October 4, 2019 at 12:15 am

    Hi Alice,

    I also fell in love with the Hunt Library! You bring up a really good point, though, about whether or not the library will continue to be on the cutting edge or if it will “settle” for how it is now. It reminds me of something Dr. Stephens said in his lecture this week about how libraries can get too attached to a certain technology based on how much is cost to purchase and/or how much time was invested in implementing it. I have a feeling that Hunt will continue to revamp its library services based on what students want/need. After all, listening to students is what made the Hunt Library what it is today.

    • Alice Roy

      October 9, 2019 at 3:17 am

      Thanks, Melina! That’s right, I was thinking about this week’s lecture too. Libraries can definitely get attached to certain technologies, so we’ll have to see how the Hunt Library continues to adapt — or, if they continue to.

  3. Michelle Sutor

    October 4, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    I totally skipped the Academic Library option this week, and focused on others – if not for your post I would have totally missed the book bot! Lesson learned. The range of seating options is a fantastic idea, one that I use at home. I had thought libraries usually offered some lounging seating and workplace seating, but to see a variety of heights, back supports, and differently lighted environments is awesome for users!

    • Alice Roy

      October 9, 2019 at 3:18 am

      That’s awesome that you have lots of seating options at home! That’s not something I ever considered, but it makes sense. I think that would also work well in a workplace, for sure!

  4. Sol Magana

    October 6, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you for your post. This was definitely interesting and engaging. I think that the human aspect also needs to be included in a library. Interconnectedness is vital for our well being and if technology can enhance that, then we are going in a healthy direction.

  5. Christine Barone

    October 10, 2019 at 4:11 am

    Hi Alice,

    I happen to agree with you that everything about the Hunt Library is cool! Like James L., I’d love to visit this library some day.

    Your final point about whether Hunt can keep up with technological advances is a good one. Or what they will do when their book bot area runs out of room for new collections. Guess we’ll see.


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