Robot arms could stretch UCF library into '21st century'
Reminiscent of Hogwart's third-floor library, students may soon be able to retrieve books of their choice without ever lifting a finger — or waving a wand.
The "21st Century Library Project" would feature an automated retrieval center, a four-story building to be added to the north side of the current John C. Hitt Library. The plan is to stack the 1.2 million volumes of print collections vertically, to be retrieved by robotic arms.
Along with a new main entrance, elevators, restrooms and lighting, plans also include an innovation room where students will have access to newer technology to use for research. More study rooms, seating and a digital commons are also in the woodwork.
Plans have been underway to transform the library, and although there is no precise timeline for the project, the library staff hopes for the first phase of construction to begin in 2016.
Other universities have engaged in projects to improve their libraries in the past few years as well. A renewed Library West at the University of Florida opened in 2006, for example. This initiative, however, is unique to UCF, said Meg Scharf, the library's associate director of public affairs, in an email.
Funding for the project will come from the Capital Improvement Trust Fund (CITF), which is supported by student fees, although the total cost hasn't been decided. CITF funds are currently at $12.4 million for the project, according to Student Government Association documents.
The first phase of construction was approved by the UCF Board of Trustees and the Florida Board of Governors, but the second phase has not yet been approved by the State University System Board of Governors. However, the project will move forward but at a slower pace, according to an SGA Senate resolution in support of the project.
Nada Hassanein is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @nhassanein_ or email her at NadaH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.