The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago may be the first large library to employ robotized storage underground. The above-ground structure of the library— an elongated dome— is also highly distinctive.
Physical books marked with bar codes are placed in bins manipulated and stored underground by robotic systems. This enables far more compact storage of physical volumes than would be possible if the books were stored on shelves in library stacks and paged by humans. The robotic system at the Mansueto Library is designed to store 3.5 million volumes.
Because all the storage portion of the Mansueto Library is underground the University of Chicago was able to build the new library next to the Regenstein Library in a way that did not disrupt the openness of the existing space between buildings, and to store a very large number of physical volumes on campus where they are used rather than in a off-site storage facility.