The NY Public Library Just Installed A Book Train, And It's The Coolest Thing Ever


Not only is the New York Public Library re-opening the Rose Main Reading Room in its Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, but it's also upgrading its conveyor belt delivery system for reference materials. The New York Public Library's book train will make studying easier for NYC academics, and its vague resemblance to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Trolley is sure to warm your heart.

The NYPL book train's journey begins in the Milstein Research Stacks under Bryant Park. A recent expansion now allows the underground storage unit to house up to 4 million volumes of research materials. For reference, that's equal in size to about one quarter of the Library of Congress' book collection.

When researchers at the NYPL request materials from the underground collection, workers in the Milstein Research Stacks pull those titles, and place them in 24 specially designed bins, each of which is attached to an individual car. Up to 30 pounds of materials may be placed in each bin. The cars travel along a conveyor belt system, which delivers materials to the first floor of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and the third-floor Rose Main Reading Room. It takes about five minutes for books to travel from the underground storage facility to the third-floor reading area.

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The New York Public Library's new book train "is easier to maintain and more efficient" than the old system, in which boxes of books were placed on a series of conveyor belts. Matt Knutzen, the Director of the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Divisions within the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, says the book train "will ensure a seamless delivery of research items from our storage facility to the researchers who need them."

Images: Jonathan Blanc/ NYPL