BEIJING, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- How long does it take for a reader to get his desired book after placing an order in a library of over 8 million books?
The answer from a new library in suburban Beijing is less than 15 minutes.
Located in the eastern district of Tongzhou, Beijing Library has become a popular destination since it opened in late December. It received over 80,000 visits during the three-day New Year holiday.
Book lovers are attracted not only to the library's architectural design which resembles a reading space under giant ginkgo trees, but also its abundant collection of books and smart services.
With a total construction area of about 75,000 square meters, Beijing Library houses over 8 million books. The towering stacks on the library's basement floor contribute to the massive book collection capacity, which is part of the largest single entity of automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) for books in China.
The stacks have a total storage area of less than 3,000 square meters, yet they can store up to some 7.1 million books largely due to their special design. Such a huge stock might require a storage area of at least 10,000 square meters for traditional libraries.
In addition to the stacks, the smart system includes various types of smart equipment like robots, enabling intelligent book delivery and auxiliary sorting.
"The automated book storage and retrieval system functions like a smart brain of the library, enabling an array of highly efficient reading services that reduce manual labor," said Shi Qi, general manager of the AS/RS business unit of Jiatu Technology, a smart reading service provider responsible for the design of Beijing Library's AS/RS.
Beijing Library is not alone in adopting innovative storage methods. The Suzhou No.2 Library, which opened in late 2019, was the first Chinese library to embrace the smart book storage and retrieval system.
"As more local governments put enriching people's cultural life high on their agenda, we are seeing growing interest from public libraries to introduce the smart storage and retrieval system," Shi said.
To make borrowing books easier, visitors to Beijing Library can register for a seamless book-borrowing service empowered by facial recognition and other technologies. A digital guide at the library's entrance also offers on-demand interactions with visitors.
For readers who want to spare the travel to the library, they can use the online book-borrowing service, which will deliver the ordered book to their doorstep. The library's online book borrowing service is open to readers not only in Beijing but also in neighboring Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province.
"It's quite a refreshing experience to visit the library," said Meng Fan, a local sixth grader. "The books here enrich your mind, and some smart services here can blow your mind." ■