Some people worry about robots taking over their jobs, but librarians at the New York Public Library aren’t concerned at all about the new machines that are helping them with their work. As adorable as it is efficient, the NYPL’s little red book train carries tomes beneath Bryant Park and onward to the library’s circulation desks. Thanks to a special video produced by The New York Times, we can all take a gander at the library’s latest high-tech addition, which began taking books on a five-minute ride through the building in October.
In all, there are 24 little red train cars following the sophisticated track, which originates in the recently opened book bunker that added 55,600 square feet of space to the library’s main branch on Fifth Avenue. The train track extends more than 950 feet, following a path that is both horizontal and vertical. Books carried along the train wind up at the circulation desks on the library’s first and third floors.
The book train is a new addition, replacing a 25-year-old system of conveyor belts and mechanized lifts operated by chains and belts. That system had become faulty over time, and as the downtime and maintenance increased, library officials realized a more modern solution was long overdue. Gerry Oliva, the library system’s director of facility operations, told the NYT that the book train was a welcome addition. “Both the staff and the public who have seen it have been pretty enamored by it,” he said.
The new book train is twice as fast as the previous book-moving system, and is expected to have fewer outages. Where the old system would completely shut down when any single part failed, the book train is much easier to repair and maintain, and a single failure won’t cause the entire train to stop. Given the train’s $2.6 million cost, that’s good news for books and book lovers alike.
Images via The New York Times video screenshots