Last week, North Carolina State University opened the doors on its brand new library, a technological marvel that’s bigger than a football field. Designed by Snøhetta, the James B. Hunt Jr. Library is staffed by a bionic librarian, bookBot, who can find any of its 1.5 million books for you. Innovative, yes — but does it rank as one of the most beautiful college libraries in the world? Or even one of the ones you’d most want to work in?
After all, a super high-tech library with robot librarians and an open floor plan that allows food and talking is cool, but it doesn’t give us the same kind of thirst for learning that stacks of leathery brown books and dusty arches do. Plus, as Moby Lives points out, these “developments signal a change in expectations. Rather than quiet places of study, surrounded by rows and rows of books, the library of the future houses books in closed stacks and tends to be a place where ideas are conceived and shared, becoming much more like a laboratory, where inspiration arrives as much from discussion as words written on paper.” Which could be great or terrible, depending on your learning style. What do you think, dear readers?