The Charles Library has been rising from the center of campus for the last three years, and in just one year’s time it will open it’s doors to the Temple community.
Originally slated to open for the Fall 2018 semester, redesign including changing materials from concrete to steel put the project on hold. The change made the building lighter, more cost effective, and less labor intensive. The Charles Library is expected to be completed by May of 2019. The plan is to have faculty and students begin utilizing the space by August 2019.
Joe Lucia, Dean of Libraries at Temple University, said that during the spring and summer 2019 terms, special collections and other books will be on the move across the street from their current home in Paley Library to the new room where the Book Bot will be located.
Known as the “Book Bot,” Lucia explain that the automated storage and retrieval system allowed them to provide more open space for students to gather and work than creating more shelving.
“Instead of having those books lined up in rows and rows of bookshelves you have them densely piled on top of each other in these racks and you have a robotic crane system between every pair of racks there’s an aisle with a crane that is connected to a database. If someone wants a book the database knows what bin the item’s in and the crane goes and retrieves that bin and brings it to a pick point where someone has to pull the book out of that storage bin charge it to the individual who requested it and put it in a pickup area.”
The Book Bot isn’t the only unique feature of the new library.
The building, upon completion, will also feature the largest green roof in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Back in April 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced that Temple would be a recipient of a $6,747,933 Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority loan in order to complete the project.
“This building will become a more visible and more engaged public space for learning across a larger rang of fields and one of the ideas behind that is increasingly kind of innovation, creativity, and new ways of doing things.”
The Charles Library, designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta, has an open floor plan that includes 40 reading and study rooms, 4 large open reading and study areas, and an oculus on the fourth floor that will illuminate the two-story atrium entrance below.
The new building will also feature a 24-hour cafe with an entrance situated on the corner of Polett and Liacouras Walks. The university is currently in talks with Aramark to fill the space with a vendor.
As of now, there remains a lot of work to be done on the Charles Library, but during our tour we saw construction workers working on pipes, putting in windows, and adding siding to the outside. Despite the many stages of construction left to be completed, Lucia says he’s excited for Temple’s community to see the new space.
“I think increasingly in a digital world but also a world where people still value physical materials, we need to figure out how to create an environment that balances those traditional reading practices with new approaches to learning, new approaches to research. I think this building is concieved to be a platform that does that.”
Lucia said that once the Charles Library is fully completed and all collections have been relocated, the current Paley Library will be repurposed for the College of Public Health.