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.
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.