Mansueto Q&A


Q: When will Mansueto open?

A: May 16, 2011.


Q: When will the Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery open?

A: May 9, 2011.


Q: What if somebody climbs on the dome? Will it break?

A: No, it won't. It's designed to support the weight of a glass-washing crew. The ground cover planted around the dome is thorny to dissuade climbers. Also, a student climbed on it over spring break and it didn't break.


Q: What if a lot of snow falls on the dome? Will it break?

A: No, it won't. Also, since the dome is heated, the snow will quickly melt.


Q: Couldn't you go down the open stairs at the E/W of the dome to access the ASRS anytime?

A: No, there is a shutter below preventing access.


Q: What is the ASRS?

A: It's the Automated Storage and Retrieval System, a very high-density shelving system. An example of a high-density shelving system is the movable stacks in the B-level of Regenstein and the basement of Crerar. Mansueto's system is even denser: three cranes raise bins of books to one of three ground-level stations. (Books are arranged in bins by size. Interestingly, in the original Harper Library system, books were also classified by size. Until recently, this arrangement could be seen in Harper's basement. Later, a classification more useful for humans (DD, then LoC) was adopted. With retrieval totally automated, arranging books by size is again more convenient.)


Q: Three ground-level stations? Doesn't that mean a lot of the dome will be taken up by ASRS infrastructure?

A: Yes, it is. In fact, only the reading room in the SE half of the dome is open to the public. The NW half of the dome is taken up by offices and facilities for book preservation and digitization. In light of this proportion, the Chicago Maroon's statement that the "seeming apathy towards [telling undergraduates about] the Mansueto’s inauguration is hard to explain" is in fact easy to explain, and their statement that "the new dome is by no means a lost cause" becomes rather ridiculous.


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Will Vaughan. Last revision May 8, 2011.