H.G. Wells and the future library

H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells. Public domain image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

I found a funny bit of animation on giphy.com yesterday and tweeted it. This particular GIF featured a woman reading in a library chair while stacks of books magically appeared on the bookshelves behind her.

Wouldn’t it to be handy to have that in real life? All you’d have to do is think of the title of a book and POOF! It would pop up on your bookcase — no wandering through Amazon or Barnes & Noble, no venturing out to the library in the freezing cold or blistering sun, no searching through library shelves only to find that the book you seek was already checked out by another patron.

I doubt we’ll ever see this technology but I read a story on Wednesday about how robots are doing more and more tasks for us. Now that technology could be in the library of the future. You could walk in, track down a book via a kiosk equipped with a computer screen and touch pad, and a robot would whizz along library shelves, track down your book and bring it to you. By the time the book got to you, it would already be processed and checked out.

My library of the future would be designed for comfort, too. It would have big picture windows with a lakeside or forest setting, a lounge area with well-padded chairs, and a cafe with hot or cold beverages to sip as you’re going through the books you got.

Maybe the robot could put the book in a container that would travel through a big pneumatic tube. The container would zip through the tube and arrive in front of you for checkout. If you didn’t like the book after flipping through it, you’d replace it in the tube and send it wafting back to its place on the shelf.

It’s interesting to speculate. Nothing’s ever quite going to replace the peaceful hushed atmosphere, the colorful books arranged so temptingly among shelves and the exciting book discoveries you make by wandering around shelf by shelf.

If anything, tomorrow’s library would resemble the scene below from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, with an automated librarian-and-information system. I love this scene; it’s a great example of how an actor (Orlando Jones) can do a lot with a small part as Guy Pearce’s character struggles to make sense of the new technology. (Video credit: Miguel Mimoso Correia on YouTube.)

Readers, what would you want in your library of the future? Let’s talk.

 

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