PHOTOS: Check out NYPL’s new $2.6M ‘Book Train’ conveyor system

September 21, 2016

Last week, the New York Public Library released stunning photographs of the renovation of its historic Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Public Catalog Room, along with news that the spaces would be reopening to the public on October 5th. As of this day, when guests request research materials, they’ll come from a new, $23 million state-of-the-art storage facility below Bryant Park. To bring the materials up, the library installed an innovative conveyor system known as the “book train,” which, according to a press release, “consists of 24 individual red cars that run on rails and can seamlessly and automatically transition from horizontal to vertical motion,” transporting up to 30 pounds of materials at a time in just five minutes.

New York Public Library Rose Main Reading Room, NYPL restoration, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Rose Reading Room
The renovated Rose Main Reading Room via Max Touhey Photography

The $23 million storage facility came after a previous, controversial plan to move the research collection to New Jersey. As 6sqft explained, “The new space will hold 4.3 million research volumes, allowing the Library to ‘fill over 90 percent of research requests with materials located on-site.'”

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The conveyor system, developed by NJ-based company Teledynamic, cost an additional $2.6 million and replaced the old system in which boxes of materials were placed on a series of conveyor belts. The new “book train” runs on 950 of vertical and horizontal tracks and, traveling at 75 feet per minute, moves materials through 11 levels of the library, or 375 feet. It will go from the Milstein Stacks (the underground facility) to both the Rose Main Reading Room and the first floor. Library staff can even track their requests, as the system has electronic sensors installed on the rails. Watch the book train in action in the video below:


Photos and video courtesy of Jonathan Blanc/New York Public Library (unless otherwise noted)

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