At San Francisco State Library, a Robot Will Be Happy to Find That Book for You

Ann McClure's picture

San Francisco State University has been renovating and expanding its library since 2008, and now the overhauled building is finally finished and partly open to students. But some who enter its newly pristine doors may notice something lacking: books.

In a move that has thrilled some university employees and horrified others, only 25 percent of the collection of more than a million books and other materials will be available for browsing.

San Francisco State is not alone; experts say there is a national trend toward digitizing university libraries.

Deborah Masters, the university librarian, described the old structure as a “rabbits’ warren” in need of an update. The new arrangement emphasizes open space, with more computers, multimedia stations, group study areas and a cafe.

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