New York Public Library installs high-tech, wall-climbing book-train

The new conveyor system will open the week of October 3, ferrying books from the vast, subterranean archives beneath Bryant Park to researchers working in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

The new system – installed utilizing an innovative design developed by global design firm Gensler – consists of 24 individual red cars that run on rails and can seamlessly and automatically transition from horizontal to vertical motion. The cars pick up requested materials from the newly-expanded Milstein Research Stacks – which now have two levels that can hold up to 4 million research volumes – and deliver the materials to library staff in two locations: one on the first floor and the other in the Rose Main Reading Room. Staff then provide the materials to researchers for use in the library.

The new conveyor system replaces an outdated setup in which boxes of research materials were placed on a series of conveyor belts. The new system is easier to maintain and more efficient.

The new system:

* Runs on 950-feet of vertical and horizontal track

* Includes 24 cars that can each carry 30 pounds of material

* Moves 75 feet per minute.

* Are tracked using electronic sensors installed on the rails

* Moves materials through 11 levels of the library, totaling 375 feet.

* Is electric, and the cars run on 24VDC

* Takes approximately five minutes to go from the Milstein Stacks to the Rose Main Reading Room (it takes longer for requested materials to be delivered, as the request needs to be received, the materials pulled by staff, and then placed on the system).

* Costs about $2.6 million

(Images: Jonathan Blanc/NYPL)