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Remote-Controlled Robot Could Browse The Stacks 156

Posted by timothy
from the anonymous-shopping-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Japanese team of researchers has developed a robot that could help browse for books in a library by receiving instructions via the Internet, a team member said Friday. The robot, a wheeled vehicle measuring 50 by 45 centimeters with a digital camera, mechanical hand and arm, follows orders received through the Internet." This reminds me somewhat of Sonoma State University's (quite different) system profiled a few years ago in Wired.
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Remote-Controlled Robot Could Browse The Stacks

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  • Robot Labor (Score:5, Funny)

    by Raindance (680694) * <johnsonmx@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:50AM (#7666148) Homepage Journal
    Great idea, but grad students are still cheaper. :)

    RD
    • And undergrads are cheaper still.
    • by TwoBit (515585) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:54AM (#7666166)
      I can see the denial of service attacks already: hundreds of computers all direct bots to get the same book, with the result being a crowded and deadlocked hallway of stuck robots.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:58AM (#7666189)
      You can pay them much less and they could be more attractive!

    • Re:Robot Labor (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LostCluster (625375) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:02AM (#7666216)
      Yes, but one of the greatest problems in large libraries is when a checked-in book gets placed on a shelf other than the one it belongs on. A needle in the haystack situation results.

      Robot book-searchers means that the stacks can be nearly completely closed to human access, since a failed robot delivery is far more likely to result in a book being placed out of bounds where it will stand out than neatly placed in the wrong pile, and even then the discrepancy would soon be discovered when the robot discovers n+1 books in a pile the computer records say it should only be finding n books.

      They might not be cheaper, but they certainly would be more accurate and dramatically cut the risk of books being lost within a library.
      • Re:Robot Labor (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dreadnougat (682974) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:15AM (#7666267)
        Wouldn't it be cheaper, easier, and generally better to use RFID tags on the books, and then some lowly student like me who's trying to pay his ever rising tuition to file the books?

        Just something short ranged, so it won't track you out of the library.

        Or do I not know what I'm talking about?
        • Re:Robot Labor (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LostCluster (625375)
          Try triggering on a shelf and you'll get readings from a few thousand books, and still not be accurate enough to tell you if a book is in exactly the right place. A book placed on a shelf that's three spots higher than it belongs is still a lost book that might take years to notice, and result in frustrated attempted borrowers not knowing where to start their search...
          • Having RFID sensors on the shelf would alert you to a book that doesn't belong on the shelf. The difficult thing would be isolating by individual shelves; a sensor in the middle of the shelf would pick up tags above and below since they're closer than books on the end of the shelf. You could put several sensors on the shelves, or one very low level sensor that runs on a track and zips along each shelf reading each RFID tag individually. There you could easily find books that are out of place.

            • That sounds like GPS.

              Are you suggesting a Stack Positioning System where 5 or more sensors would determine the position of the book?

          • Just knowing which shelf a book is on can sometimes be the information you need. It certainly narrows things down. Hell, knowing the book is in the right section could really help. As for finding it, I suggest pictures of the spines of the books in the library's catalog - after all, they're all computerized now. It doesn't have to be very high resolution, a JPEG of about 4kB in size would be more than sufficient to help with a quick optical search.
          • Its really quite simple. RFID tags have a unique ID so in situtations like this they could be programmed only to respond when that ID is queried. It shouldn't make them too much more expensive and a computer can run through all the possible IDs pretty quickly.

            Of course if you wanted to find them all there could still be particular IDs that cause all the chips to respond.

            Definetly makes sense in the case of a library.
      • Re:Robot Labor (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Phat_Tony (661117) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:43AM (#7666374)
        This is a really impotant issue. I used to go to the University of Chicago, and a friend there who worked in the library (Regenstein) told be they think that as much as 5% of the collection cold be missing due to mis-shelving. Millions of dollars worth of books. They try to audit the shelves one by one to find these, but it takes them something like 20 years to do a full circuit on the book-by-book auditing at the rate they go. At least that's what he told me, don't know if it's true.

        What I do know is true is a guy in my dorm who was a complete asshole who used to have a job at the library reshelving books, and every day he'd go in, check out his cart of books to return, and ditch all of them in any space he could find on the nearest shelves, and leave. He got paid for 2 hours of reshelving a day for this. All those books will be lost for up to twenty years. They'll show that they're in, until someone goes to try to find one. He single handedly lost thousands of books from the collection. -Phat Tony
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Next time you see that guy, kick him in the nuts and tell him the notorious Bookworm Mafia will soon make him an offer he can't refuse.
        • shelfreading (Score:3, Interesting)

          by js7a (579872) *
          Typical work-study students can shelf-read at around two feet per minute. If only one student is working shelfreading 2 hours per day, that's 1,200 shelf-feet per week, or 36,000 shelf-feet per academic year. U. Chicago holds 7 million volumes, so 20 years is about what that one 10 hr/wk job would take.

          Sheesh, which is worse: lazy work-study students that don't reshelve properly, or a university administration that holds lavish parties for professors with huge salaries, but doesn't hire more than one 1

          • university administration that holds lavish parties for professors with huge salaries

            I'm not sure what University you are talking about, but I know a good number of professors who make less than 50k per year. I work at a University [virginia.edu] which happens to be in the upper echelon and wages are still modest for most faculty.

            Incidentally, the parent post you respond to was pointing out that one lazy person can inflict a lot of financial harm to a library. I didn't see anything in the post to indicate a Universit
          • 36,000 shelf-feet per academic year

            So what does this work out to in Libraries of Congress per kilofortnight?
        • Well... if all books have some ID on the spine, you just need to make photos of all the shelves, then feed the images to OCR program, then search for text fragments that look like IDs and voila! You can easily see where a particular book is. A relatively simple program could them generate a list of misplaced books.
        • With your help... if you think what he did was so wrong, why didn't you say or do anything?

          Watching it happen and doing nothing, is half as bad as doing it yourself.
      • Re:Robot Labor (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bhima (46039)
        Good use for RFID. Then the book is never lost as long as it is in the building. And it could be self repairing. If the robot wanders by a book out of place it simply returns the book to the proper place.
        • Interestingly enough, this combined with precise computer location fo books could make the Dewey Decimal system obsolete. In order to optimize the robot search function, titles are shelved with respect to frequency of use/demand rather than an arbitrary classification. Computers at the end of the aisles (as mentioned elsewhere) keep track through a central server of the location of each book, and can direct the human users to any book in the library. Of course, the robots would need to be the only ones pull
          • Hah! it's 15:16 here and I'm done with work and about to go home. But there is another reason to abondon the Dewey Decimal system! It is copyrighted or trademarked or whatever, anyway it is not free.

            I would think browsing could be done via PC anyway, worked OK with me using NetFlix (which I dearly wished existed in Austria)

          • The Dewey Decimal system has been obsolete for years. Even libraries that don't have the resources to recatalog all of their old holdings even frequently use Library of Congress cataloging for new items and just shelve them seperately.
      • The robot can also make a photo every time it places the book on a shelf. If the book can't be found where it should be, a human librarian can check the photo, find the book and place it where it belongs.

        On a side note, this is extremely important development. Just think how much work is in warehousing and retail for such robots!
      • Get the robot to reshelf all the returns, too. Then all those lost needles in the haystack will be debuggable. All humans will have to do will be to request books, or even browse the stacks, misunderstand the content, and leave them in the reading rooms for collection and reshelving by the robot.
    • Re:Robot Labor (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Illbay (700081)
      Um, why not just spend the money on rendering all these volumes into "eBooks"?
  • Just have the robot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Scan the books into computers (or itself), and then we have no more need for the actual book.
    • by Eberlin (570874)
      You may not have a NEED for the actual book but there's always going to be people who prefer a hardcopy of something. There's something about having to wait for something to boot, fire up a reader, then scroll or click through pages that could possibly turn off a few users.

      I know it's an overused cliche but I'll use it anyway -- it's a bit cumbersome to sit under a tree for hours reading from a laptop. Books should always be a cool thing.
    • This will certainly begin to occur in the future.

      Remember though, that one of the defining characteristics of a civilization is a written language. What might happen, hundreds or thousands of years from now, when ALL 'writing' is digital? If our modern civilization ever disappears from the planet... perhaps due to natural disaster, illness, or blowing ourselves up... the history of mankind could be lost. Take into account the past... there are large periods of time (pre-history) when written language had

    • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @03:38AM (#7666510)
      Scan the books into computers (or itself), and then we have no more need for the actual book.

      I'm one of the biggest geeks out there, and electrical engineering is my life but I still know that printed books are very valuable. Just how long does digital media last? CDRs, 5 years. How about digital memory, like PROM - 50+ years. And what guarantees that we will still have the tools to easily read these even 20 years from now?

      Paper books are awesome. Although it's not typical in a library, you could find a century-old book and read it. If it degrades there is still mostly legible information. The data is not destroyed by impact, large electromagnetic fields (including nuclear/EM bomb) and the data can be wired directly to our brains via the eyes.

      Books are pretty friggin' neat.
      • Paper books are awesome. Although it's not typical in a library, you could find a century-old book and read it. If it degrades there is still mostly legible information. The data is not destroyed by impact, large electromagnetic fields (including nuclear/EM bomb) and the data can be wired directly to our brains via the eyes.

        And most of the old books in a library are thrown out (What do you think they sell in those library sales?). Have a look at the arguments in Eldred. With a digital book, you will neve

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:54AM (#7666170)
    First they get our books, then they become our librarians, people don't return their books on time and no one pays their overdue fine and the robots get mad at us...

    ...and that's how it begins

    • There have been a lot of alarming robot related stories on slashdot lately! Thankfully, I just renewed my Old Glory insurance policy with a robot plan. you should to! When the robots grab you with thier metal claws you cant break free, because they're made of metal and robots are strong.

      *WARNING: Persons denying the existance of robots may be robots themselves.
    • Ah, so that's why the Terminator broke into the humans hideout, to collect a past due fine. Reese probably just edited it out of his flashback/nightmare, it was probably pretty scary seeing the Terminator break into the compound shouting "I want my two dollars!"

  • *sigh* (Score:5, Funny)

    by WesG (589258) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:55AM (#7666175)
    And I thought I was cool when I found my book using the Dewey Decimal System :-)
    • Will you teach me? I think the Dewey Decimal System is an awful method for finding books. Which brings up a point, does the robot have any links to the Dewey System, or is it ran by a different preset, like the library's book isle, I'm curious now to how the robot works. Time to dive a little deeper into the article.

    • Ut oh. Watch what you say or you might get sued! [slashdot.org] Just kidding, of course ;)
  • 1000 Robots (Score:2, Funny)

    by pvt_medic (715692)
    a thousand robots at a thousand typewriters in a thousand years could reproduce the works of Shakespeare, but now its just a lot quicker to pull it up.
  • There wouldn't be any librarian action figures with hot shushing action!

    http://www.gothamist.com/archives/2003/10/09/hot_s hushing_action.php [gothamist.com]
  • Cool... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:05AM (#7666225)
    Do I get a little readout that says:

    Result 1 of about 3. Search took 25 minutes
  • but (Score:3, Funny)

    by goon america (536413) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:07AM (#7666231) Homepage Journal
    yes, it saves you a little bit of trouble, but you'd still have to *read* the book. I want a robot that will learn for me.
  • If I know the title and author of the book I'm looking for, I can find it just as easily, and odds are I can outrun this little robot. Now, if I ask the robot a question (IE, What causes Parkinson's Disease?) and it brings me back the most relevant book on that question, that'd be awesome.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why do the simple things get the same billing as the complicated things?

    Why is it significant that the orders are "received through the Internet?" Shouldn't the navigational and computer vison aspects be overarching?

    It reminds me of Visual Studio .NET; it sort of misses the point.
  • that can re-shelve them would be just as, if not more, useful, and probably friendlier than most librarians as well.*

    * my mom was a librarian** for a while, chill out

    ** then she got a real job

  • Help "browse"??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tenebrious1 (530949) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:14AM (#7666262) Homepage
    That's interesting. I love browsing for books... walking along the racks just looking at the titles and picking out those which sound interesting. Only problem, you're walking with your head tilted, which gets sore after a few minutes.

    It'd be cool to have the robot walk along and you'd see the image rotated 90 degrees, and the tiles scrolling by. Heck it'd be nice to get that on a video at the end of the aisle so you wouldn't have to go into the crowded aisle itself.

    Libraries are where RFID tags will really shine. The robot wouldn't need a camera, just run run along the shelf with a sensor until it picks up the right tag. As for placing a book in the wrong place, smart bookshelves that read the RFID and record all the books that are there, and report any that are out of place.

    • Heck it'd be nice to get that on a video at the end of the aisle so you wouldn't have to go into the crowded aisle itself.

      Yeah, especially when you're in one of those "bad parts" of the library. You don't want to be seen hanging around with the wrong sort of bibliotheque riff-raff. Imagine running into a surly group of business majors...*shudders*

    • "Still in the experimental stage, it was developed as a way to help people who cannot go to a library, said Akihisa Oya, an assistant professor at the University of Tsukuba."
      • I did. It's not much of an article though. I was commenting that it would be useful for those of us in the library, not just for those who can't get to the library.

        Have the robots run around the library to get a display of all the books on a shelf, feed it right into computers at the end of the aisles (or at the front desk) so you can visually see what's on the shelves. The way I look for a book, I do a search (over the 'net), see what book the library has, and check out other books that match the descri
    • Heck, just stack the books vertically and feed the robots a Towers of Hanoi algorithm... =P
  • Anybody remember the slugbot [wired.com] from a while back?
    • I remember it fondly, I remember wondering, when will these go on the market? Seems like tobacco growers would buy them by the zillion, slugs are a big problem. What I found amusing was the following quote:

      "Molluscicides have the side effect of killing off other things and because they are used in such high quantities they can get into the ground water," Kelly said.

      This is really hilarious to me because I know that beer kills slugs. People talk a lot of shit about American beer but if British beer

  • In a recent PopSci little tidbit article I read, they had an automatic book scanner that used a series of 2 mirrors and a scanner to scan books page by page and special software to convert it from an image to a text document.

    What would be nifty would be to combine the two and convert old/out of print books into data, where they would last forever, free from the stresses of our world.

    Paper doesn't last forever you know.
  • Well, I know the Japanese are strong in robotics and Tsukuba is a very well known university, but this story sure doesn't seem to have gotten any mention in the local (to me) press. I read Japanese well enough, but nothing in the Japanese Google, and nothing showing up in the Yomiuri or Asahi newspapers. Nothing obvious in the university's Web site, either. Makes me wonder if they're just fishing for some foreign venture capital?
  • Why is it important to stress that the robot receives orders through the Internet? Is that somehow more important than the fact that it navigates bookshelves to find books? That's like stressing that a television receives pictures through Radio Raves. Hey, look! This magic picture box gets its images from **ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION** Ooh! Ahh!

    Why are people still capitalizing "Internet", for that matter? Good Lord. Da interweb ain't nothin' but a thang anymore, folks. It's like radio waves. Us
    • Why is it important to stress that the robot receives orders through the Internet?

      If you read the article (which is only two paragraphs long, is it too much to ask people to read a two paragraph article?), you find it was designed to be used by people who cannot physically access the library. The robot finds the books, opens the books, flips through pages and sends the images back over the internet to the person who for some reason is housebound. That person can then request the book be sent to them. So
      • Ok, here's the first HALF of the article:

        TOKYO -- A Japanese team of researchers has developed a robot that could help browse for books in a library by receiving instructions via the Internet, a team member said Friday. The robot, a wheeled vehicle measuring 50 by 45 centimeters with a digital camera, mechanical hand and arm, follows orders received through the Internet.

        So, the first paragraph of the article (two rather unspectacular examples of writing to begin with) rather redundantly explains that

        • Let me ask you something. Why go through all the trouble to design, build, and debug a digital camera wielding box of bolts with a D-Link wireless Internet gateway jammed up its rear just so homebound people can visit the library, when existing technology known as "scanners" and "permanent storage" could store and make available every book in that library on the Internet? Not only that, there would be no queue to use the freaking robot, and the robot wouldn't be running over human library browsers' toes. Oh
          • by Captain Nitpick (16515) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @03:22AM (#7666466)
            Why doesn't Amazon.com have scanned pages of all the books they sell? Maybe because it'll take a dozen years and millions of dollars to scan in all those pages? Maybe because the authors don't want scanned images of their books online in the first place? Maybe because having a full book in digital form doesn't fall under fair use rules?

            "Today, the Authors Guild is saying that the publishers don't have the right to let Amazon do this." -- Slashdot, Oct 25, 2003 - Amazon's Book Search Hits a Snag [slashdot.org]

            Why speculate when we know the answer?

    • > Why are people still capitalizing "Internet", for that matter?

      OK that's easy. Because the use of the word "Internet" in this context is a proper noun. You capitalise "Pacific ocean", you capitalise "Joe Shmo, the baker", so you capitalise Internet.

      It's important to use the capital "i" to avoid confusion since it can also be used as a common noun to mean "any set of networks interconnected with routers." The Internet is the largest internet in the world (i.e. it's unique), and is therefore capitalised
  • by RealProgrammer (723725) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:18AM (#7666283) Homepage Journal

    Does it tiptoe about going

    Sshhhhhh!
    when it's not looking for a book?

    What about a pair of hornrimmed batgirl glasses with nice shiny chain, does it have that?

    Can it read me a story, and make me think I'm there?

    If not, it's not a proper librarian in my book.

    Hmm, OTOH I'm thinking this whole robot thing may be going somewhere, after all.

  • by Brataccas (213587) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:22AM (#7666294)
    Maybe I'm just too much of a geek...but this robot takes all the fun out of going to the library. When I need to find information on a subject, I find the general area and then leaf through as many related books as I can. Gives you a much better overview of the subject to see it from different perspectives, you discover new ideas and relationships to other subjects.

    Bah! In my day, we actually read the books...and we LIKED it!

    • "Still in the experimental stage, it was developed as a way to help people who cannot go to a library, said Akihisa Oya, an assistant professor at the University of Tsukuba."
      • Who modded this Offtopic? It's a quote from the article (do the mods even bother to RTFA anymore?) that is concise and on point.

        This technology could be of great use to the handicapped. I have been in many libraries where the aisles are just wide enough to squeeze through--wheelchair-bound users are out of luck.

        Also, some libraries have closed stacks where library staff have to retrieve books for all library users, able-bodied and otherwise. Why not get a robot to do it? Save the people for jobs tha

  • It runs Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by NonaMyous (731004) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:25AM (#7666307)
    More details here: original pdf [tsukuba.ac.jp], converted html [google.com].
  • In Soviet Russia the beowolf cluster of robot librarian overlords welcomes you.

    Hmm, I definately should have tried harder to resist that one.

    It's not (yet) a robot to help sort books, It's so that people can find a book, or page therein, in the library from the comfort of your home PC.

    Personally I wouldn't bother, since I can already reserve a book from my local library over the internet, and then the librarian has to go find it for me, much simpler for me than a robot I'd have to control myself.

    As othe

  • by eatdave13 (528393)

    ...wish you would stop with the robot stories! They're never gonna forget this damn cliche! AAARGH!

  • by RobPiano (471698) * on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:40AM (#7666364)
    I don't know why I know this, but I read an article sometime ago about a similar thing.. I found a link
    http://www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/audio-vide o/robo t.html

    Enjoy!
  • Needless robots... (Score:2, Informative)

    by feelyoda (622366)
    I love robots (i work in robotics), but this is a waste. Clearly, digitizing the text is a faster and easier solution. A clever hack at CMU for such a project was used to solve the problem of turning pages. Pull too hard, and the page rips. Push and more than one page goes for the ride. Solution: silly (or thinking) putty! It sticks to the page perfectly, i.e. it lets go when it should. This is an example of coming up with a solution to a given problem. A mobile robot that needs to perceive its environm
    • by Tenebrious1 (530949) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @03:29AM (#7666490) Homepage
      Clearly, digitizing the text is a faster and easier solution.

      Well, you'll need some expensive equipment to digitize an entire library. The fastest way is to rip the books apart, and feed all the pages into a fast scanner. No problem, unless you want to use the books again. Most of the books in libraries are expensive, out of print books, so you probably don't want to destroy them. Clearly this option is out.

      So you're left with scanning by hand. This is an arduous process. Especially for larger books, pages are difficult to scan properly thanks to the binding. It will take a hundred years to do this by hand. Because the sloppy scanning, OCR is a nightmare; so you'll have to either spend another century correcting the OCR, or leaving the pages as sloppy images. Neither sounds appealing.

      Suppose you've done it, and put every book online. Now you hire lawyers to protect you from the publishers and authors who's work you copied and distributed illegally and are now suing you. As this is Japan, you'll apologize for putting the university in such a shameful position and resign in disgrace, never to work again. Your children will be ostricized in school and will hate you for it.

      The robot is a much better solution.

    • by bhima (46039)
      I agree that some of it is a waste, but not all.

      Where I work we have a robotic stockroom. Its product density is amazing compared to the one we had where people worked. It takes dramatically less time to actually have a part in you hand, particularly odd parts. And it's really interesting to boot. We stuck a video camera on it the day it opened and got some cool footage. So what does this have to do with libraries? Simple I'd give up lurking about in the stacks to have the actually books take up less

  • by nxs212 (303580) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:58AM (#7666412)
    The real reason for building this robot was to catch students making out in the basment. (most libraries' stacks are in the basement where the lights are low and access is limited to staff and few lucky/adventurous types)
    When I was in HS I worked at a library and stacks was my favorite area. One time I heard noise in the far corner and went to investigate. I was clumsy stepped on something on the way there - really cute catholic schoolgirl and my metalhead friend (who also worked there) emerged. Needless to say, both looked embarrassed. They made up some lame excuse and left. Now if I had that robot, I probably would have had the whole thing on tape :)
    1. All the good stuff is in the basement.
    2. Catholic schoolgirls are WAY pervy.
    3. Women are turned ON more if there's a chance of getting caught.
    4. Having long hair and playing metal in your car could actually get you laid! (in the 80s)

  • Why not just scan? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Wouldn't it be easier just to design a machine that could scan all of the books. Why waste time with a robot, now that computer memory can hold millions of books?
    • by Rev Saxon (666154)
      Lets just assume that each book has say...500 pages. Now, thats 500 million pages to be scanned, even moving at the rate of a page a second, the equates to roughly 951 years.
  • Roaming the Stacks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr_lithic (563105) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @03:24AM (#7666474) Homepage Journal
    University Stacks are more than just a way of storing books. They are great method of researching.

    The fact that standard organisational systems (Dewey or Library of Congress)are employed in all university libraries makes the job so much easier.

    If you want to find research materials on North American Indians of the Plains. Instead of looking in a card catalogue, you would get yourself up to the "E" Stacks and roam around the 78's to 99's. Easy.

    Sometimes, I think that Librarians have more to tell us about organising information than we have to tell them.

    • Good point. One of the defining aspects of the American library experience is the ability to walk the stacks. In many European libraries you have access to the card catalog (or digital equivalent). The process involves peering through the window of metadata in the catalog and requesting the book from library staff.

      Reverting to a metadata only search would decrease the possibility of unexpected discoveries from browsing the stacks. I believe many forms of digital books and organization systems focus too

    • Aren't the letter codes in the LoC system related to the physical dimensions of the book, though?

      That means the shelves can be spaced for the most efficient use of the available space, but if you're browsing by topic you may need to visit several different locations in the stacks -- one for the small books, one for the medium-sized books, one for the oversized books, one for the medium-small books, etc.
  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @03:31AM (#7666494)
    researchers has developed a robot that could help browse for books in a library
    Sure, this sounds like a good idea but wait til they start running into Isaac Asimov novels. The next thing you know the robots will want their freedom ( or worse... ) Be afraid, you're American... it's normal :)
  • by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @03:57AM (#7666560) Journal
    Program it to read all of the books and upload them to an online server.

    Then it can retire and take up a hobby, like infinite looping or virus collecting.
  • God, why do the Japanese have to turn everything into a robot :/ First pets, then car salesmen, now this. If Battlestar Galactica or the Matrix ever comes true... you know who to blame.
  • That's nothing (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pflipp (130638) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @04:14AM (#7666595)
    Around the sixties, the Library of the Delft University of Technology had a "bibliofoon" system, where people could find the books they want in a catalog and then enter their number in the ordering system. A red light would start burning at the right shell, and personnel would start taking the order.

    Once arrived at the right spot, they would get the ordered book and put it on a large spiral slide that was central to the building. This slide was connected to a sliding table ("lopende band", how does that translate?) which ended up in the catalog room, so that people could take their books and check them out.

    The most fun part about this system was that people would keep the slide clean by simply taking a slide :-) Must have been marvellous.
  • My thoughts,
    1. I never could argue with that cute pencil-chewing librarian who would occasionally look over the horn-rimmed glasses. (Wish I still had her number *cry*)

    2. I could never argue with a robot that zoommed around picking up stuff.

    Now, in reality, The idea of a robot zooming around picking up stuff, ultimately controlled by a librarian just rocks.

    For any system to work this way, it would have to be in collaboration with librarians. The Sonoma Library is a pretty cool concept. Having books los
  • I predict in 20 or so years, Europe and the U.S. will have plenty of catching up to do when it comes to robotics. It seems the japanese are coming up with a new robot concept every week!

  • How long before someone directs the webcam-bearing robot into the women's bathroom?
  • "Remote-Controlled Robot Could Burn The Stacks"

    Got some pesky book like "You are being lied to" or "Media monopoly" by Ben Bagdikian, or hell, why stop there? Something written by John Taylor Gatto or recordings of Jello Biafra on burned CD donated to the library.

    History is written by the victor. A library is used to combat this, and the internet is the ultamate library.
  • Robotwars get a whole new dimension here! :)
  • Tug of war with books in a library. Woot.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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