About the Robot

The expanded Miller Nichols Library will accommodate not only welcoming and comfortable collaborative and quiet study spaces, state-of-the-art technology and wireless internet access, but also RooBot, the library robot, a high-tech automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS).

Frequently Asked Questions About the Robot

Watch this video to see RooBot in action.

What materials will be housed in the ASRS? return to top

  • The retrieval system will contain items that receive occasional or little use, but need to be kept easily accessible. Because the retrieval system is being built with space for 15 years of growth, the library collection will have space to grow with the most current and heavily used items on the open shelves, and a valuable retrospective collection retained onsite.

Will I still be able to browse through the library’s collection? return to top

  • Over 150,000 volumes will remain on open-stacked shelving in the library. What is retained on these shelves will be the newest and/or most frequently used materials. As users’ needs change, so too can the collection of browseable items, as contents easily can be rotated into or out of the Robot.
  • Online browsing is currently available in MERLIN, the libraries' catalog, using the number search by the Library of Congress call number. The Library of Congress call number enables the shelving of the books by subject. The libraries' are working on enhancing this online browsing feature.

How are materials retrieved? return to top

  • MERLIN, the libraries' catalog, will provide a gateway to books and journals stored in the Robot. Requests for materials housed in the Robot can be made on any computer with internet access – even from home!
  • Once a request is made, an automatic crane will locate the requested item and deliver it to a pick-up station on the first or third floor--your choice.
  • At the pick-up station, a staff member takes the item from the bin and holds it until retrieved by the patron.
  • The entire process takes about four minutes and can be viewed from the exterior of the building through a window on the entrance plaza.

What are the advantages of the Robot? return to top

  • Space. By moving some collections into the Robot, shelving can be removed from other areas of the library to make more student-friendly spaces. Items in the Robot’s various-sized shelving bins comprise about one-seventh of the floor space used by conventional open-stacked shelving.
  • Speed and convenience. The ease of retrieval makes these collections more accessible for students and researchers. The storage system uses a robotic crane to retrieve requested materials from racks to the check-out desk within minutes - faster than you could walk and retrieve the item yourself! Since the materials are stored in the building and not at a remote depository in Columbia, there is no 2-day wait for materials. You can pick them up immediately.
  • Preservation. Steel storage bins protect materials from fire, and the temperature and humidity controls in the area help to preserve the condition of the materials housed inside.
  • Greater Holding Capability. We estimate the Robot will accommodate an additional 400,000 items onsite. Thousands of volumes and other items currently housed off site, such as the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center--Kansas City and University Archives collections, can be accommodated in the new facility.
  • Cost savings. The Robot eliminates the need and cost for: leasing offsite storage facilities; couriering items to and from storage site(s); and reinforcing existing ceilings and floors to accommodate more shelving. The Robot also reduces the cost per square foot of new construction dedicated to collections space.
  • Maximum Flexibility & Continued Growth. By incorporating the retrieval system into the building design, the library achieves the maximum capability to house, protect, and access library materials well into the future. The retrieval system is designed with advanced technological capabilities that can be upgraded and expanded.

Where else are similar systems being used? return to top

  • Other libraries which incorporate this system include