Overview, Design & Technology

Welcome to the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, where unique engineering and bold design come together at the heart of campus to foster intellectual discovery.

The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library Grand Reading Room
The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library Grand Reading Room
Photo by Tom Rossiter

The Mansueto Library creates spaces and tools for research, study, and preservation. Designed by Helmut Jahn, its inviting research space includes the Grand Reading Room, where scholars from all disciplines can work under a soaring elliptical glass dome with views of the historic University of Chicago campus.

The Mansueto Library has been recognized with a Distinguished Building Citation of Merit by the American Institute of Architects' Chicago chapter and a Patron of the Year Award by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Mansueto’s high-density automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) requires just one-seventh of the space of regular stacks. When users request an item, a robotic crane retrieves the material within minutes.

A cross-disciplinary collection of materials from the existing libraries on campus will be united in the Mansueto Library.

The Mansueto Library also houses state-of-the-art conservation and digitization laboratories that will preserve rare materials in their original form and through digitization. Projects conducted here enable research worldwide as well as innovative approaches to scholarly cooperation.

Ground Floor

Grand Reading Room

This 8,000-square-foot room provides comfortable seating for 180 faculty, students and visiting scholars under a soaring elliptical glass dome.

Circulation Service Center:  Library users check out materials they requested from the ASRS and obtain information from Library staff.

Preservation Department: The Library’s capacity to preserve its rich collections is greatly expanded in the new 6,000-square-foot area, which includes:

  • Conservation Laboratory:  A special paper washing sink, fume hoods, a suction table and ultrasonic encapsulator are used alongside traditional bookbinding equipment such as presses and sewing frames to conserve original artifacts.
  • Digitization Laboratory:  Digital cameras and scanners are used to create high-resolution digital images of unique book and paper materials.

Automated Storage and Retrieval System

Hidden below the dome and extending 50 feet below grade, the ASRS provides shelving in optimal climate conditions. Shelving by size and within a compact rack and bin system with robotic retrieval maximizes total capacity while minimizing retrieval time.