One of the more interesting library related images (WHi 39575) in the Wisconsin Historical Images collection of the Wisconsin Historical Society shows two giant revolving bookstacks with an elevator placed between them. The vision of this futuristic book retrieval system was created by W. D. Lewis around 1900. Massive storage of books by libraries in tiered bookstacks was not that far into the future though. When the New York Public Library on 42nd Street opened in 1911 it had eight tiers of steel bookstacks capable of holding three million volumes. When the Free Library of Philadelphia opened in 1927 it utilized a number of new technologies to speed retrieval of books from its six tier free standing bookstack. Click here to see a step by step view of the retrieval process. The Mathewson Automated Retrieval System (MARS) at the University of Nevada, Reno is a modern day version of an old idea.
To find out about a library bookstack from hell click here.