James B. Hunt Jr. Library

The James B. Hunt Jr. Library is the second main library of North Carolina State University (NCSU) and is located on the university's Centennial Campus.[1] The $115 million facility[2] opened in January 2013 and is best known for its architecture and technological integration, including a large robotic book storage and retrieval system which houses most of the university's engineering, textiles, and hard sciences collections.[1] The library is named after James Baxter "Jim" Hunt Jr., the four-term 69th and 71st governor of North Carolina.[3] NCSU Libraries is part of the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN), which shares books between North Carolina State University, Duke University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina Central University.

James B. Hunt Jr. Library
Hunt Library Exterior 2.JPG
EstablishedJanuary 2, 2013
LocationCentennial Campus, North Carolina State University
Branch ofNCSU Libraries
Items collected1.5 million books [1]
Other information
BudgetApprox. $115.2 million [1]

Architecture and designEdit

Skyline Terrace study area

Planning for the Hunt Library began in January 2008 and continued through August of the same year.[4] Norwegian design firm Snøhetta, best known for their work on the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, served as lead designer while Raleigh-based Pearce Brinkley Cease & Lee (now Clark Nexsen) was hired as executive architect.[5][6][7] Groundbreaking took place on October 23, 2009.[8][9]

A major impetus for the library's construction was to reduce the university's "seating gap," the numerical difference between actual study space in campus libraries and NCSU's goal of providing seats for 20% of the student population.[10] When the project's budget was cut by $11 million in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007-08, the bookBot was one of several innovations to emerge, enabling architects to design a smaller building without sacrificing seating.[7][11] The completed library building covers more than 221,000 square feet (20,500 m2), is 88 feet (27 m) high at its tallest point, and its five floors can hold 1,700 students.[1]

Contemporary design is visible in both the building design and furnishings. A wide variety of table and chair designs are mixed throughout the floors (variations of Egg Chairs, Ball Chairs, and Panton Chairs, for example). The Thos. Moser furniture company designed a chair specifically for use in the library called the Hunt Chair, a variation of the Regent design.[3]

In 2013 the library received an AIA/ALA (American Institute of Architects and American Library Association) Library Building Award.[11]


José Parlá painting The Nature of Language in the library

In 2013 the library installed the mural The Nature of Language by contemporary artist José Parlá. The mural was created over the course of five years. Parlá's artwork was inspired by calligraphy.[12] In 2013 José and his brother Rey Parla released a short film documenting the creation of the mural.[13]


The Hunt Library plays a part in NCSU's sustainability plan.[14] 31% of building materials are made from recycled content, most of its wood comes from sustainable forests, and the interior makes extensive use of solar energy and natural light. Additional features include a roof-mounted solar water heater, low-flow fixtures, and a partial green roof. The building is also piped to allow for reclaimed wastewater usage, but this is not yet implemented as of September 2013. The university has expressed an intention to seek a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver environmental rating.[14][15]

In April 2013 the Hunt Library received the City of Raleigh Non-Residential Green Design Award "for its sustainable design and technology that reduces energy use by 31 percent."[16]


Upon its opening, Hunt Library received international attention for its use of advanced technology.[17][18] The "core" of the university's vision for the Hunt Library is "the ability for our students, faculty, and partners to immerse themselves in interactive computing, multimedia creation, and large-scale visualization."[10] Among its noted features are the robotic book storage and retrieval system, a makerspace, 3D printing, technology-rich study rooms, audio and video production rooms, a video game lab, a teaching and visualization lab, and a technology showcase room demonstrating products such as tablets and Arduino available for lending or use in the library.[19][20]

In praise of its architecture and technological innovations, the Boston Globe named the Hunt Library one of its "five novel libraries" in April 2013.[18]

bookBot book storage and retrieval systemEdit

The bookBot as seen from the first floor

The bookBot is the robotic system of book storage and retrieval utilized at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library. The system consists of four 50-foot-tall robots at the center of the book-delivery system that traverse between rows of book bins.[2][21] The bookBot is able to barcode, sort, and store books (as well as other items) in more than 18,000 bins. Visitors can watch the bookBot retrieve materials through a glass wall on the first floor of the library, called Robot Alley.[2][7]

Up to two million books can be stored in the bookBot's delivery system.[22] Compared to storing books on traditional shelves, the delivery system can store the same number of books while only using 1/9 the size of that.[23] Out of approximately 25 American academic libraries, the bookBot system in the James B. Hunt Jr. Library is the only one in North Carolina.[21]

Students and library patrons do not have direct physical access to bookBot, accessing collections instead using pre-existing browsing and borrowing features of the libraries' website. A virtual browse tool aims to replicate the aid to discovery that physical library shelves provide by presenting sets of adjacently indexed titles.[1]


The Hunt Library makerspace currently features a 3D scanner and two 3D printers available for use for a fee. There is also a laser cutter in the Makerspace[19][24]

Game LabEdit

The Game Lab is dedicated to both the academic study of digital games and recreational gaming. It is available for casual use when not reserved by faculty or graduate students.

The space is surrounded by "smart glass" that can be frosted by pressing a button. The lab features flexible, ergonomic seating, a Christie MicroTiles display wall touch-enabled for up to 20 simultaneous touches and a custom 8-foot gaming bridge console with a 20" AMX Modero X touch panel for room control. The lab is further equipped with a Sennheiser K-array 5.1 surround sound system with BiAmp AudiaFlex audio processing, a custom, liquid-cooled game server with dual NVIDIA GTX 690 graphics cards and with an overclocked Intel i7 quad-core processor with 256GB SSD, 32GB memory and 10Ge Ethernet. Gamers have access to a Mac Pro game and visualization server, three fixed consoles (an Xbox One, a PlayStation 4 and a Wii U), a Samsung Blu-ray disc player, AppleTV, Cisco digital media player, Vista Spyder Video Wall Processor, Extron XTP Crosspoint matrix switcher and three mobile game carts with Xbox, PlayStation 3 and Wii.[25][26]

Video wallsEdit

There are four large video walls built into the public spaces around the Hunt Library and a fifth in the Game Lab. The ultra high-definition displays are made with Christie MicroTiles technology and range in size from 3.2 to 6.5 meters wide.[27] The walls are used to showcase the work of faculty and students.

The Libraries also curates work for the video walls through their Code+Art program,[28] which invites students to create visualizations for the digital spaces that blur the line between computational thinking and design thinking. The Code+Art program features data visualizations, generative art, procedurally generated environments, and animated GIFs.

Awards and accoladesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Hunt Library Facts". Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  2. ^ a b c Associated Press (2013-01-06). "Book robot among features at new NC State library". The Washington Examiner. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-02-19.
  3. ^ a b Elder, Renee (2013-04-03). "Custom chair at NC State's new library helps students learn, get comfortable". News & Observer. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
  4. ^ "Timeline". NCSU Libraries. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  5. ^ Hiscoe, David. "Lead Designer for James B. Hunt Jr. Library Wins Architecture Prize for Best European Public Space". NCSU Library News. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee joins Clark Nexsen". Building Design + Construction. Retrieved 2015-06-10.
  7. ^ a b c "JAMES B. HUNT JR. LIBRARY BY SNØHETTA". A AS Architecture. Archived from the original on 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  8. ^ "James B Hunt Library to break ground Friday". New Raleigh. 2009-10-20. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
  9. ^ Thorpe, Amy. "NCSU leaders break ground on library in governor's honor". News 14 Carolina. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Hunt Library Vision". North Carolina State University. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
  11. ^ a b "2013 Recipient - AIA/ALA Library Building Awards - James B. Hunt Jr. Library". The American Institute of Architects. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  12. ^ Lee, Evelyn (20 July 2013). "Jose Parla's Newest Mural Is the Loudest Thing in the Library at NC State".
  13. ^ Lasane, Andrew (8 November 2013). "Jose Parla Considers the "Nature of Language" for This Mural at James B. Hunt Library". Complex.com.
  14. ^ a b "The Sustainable Side of Hunt Library". Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  15. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". North Carolina State University Libraries. Retrieved 2013-02-24.
  16. ^ a b "2013 Environmental Awards Recognize Local Environmental Leadership". City of Raleigh. 2013-04-23. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
  17. ^ "New NCSU Library Attracting Global Attention". News 14 Carolina. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  18. ^ a b c "5 novel libraries". Boston Globe. 2013-04-28. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
  19. ^ a b "Hunt Library 3D Printing". N.C. State Libraries. Archived from the original on 2012-01-31. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
  20. ^ "Lawrence and Ella Apple Name Key Technology Space in New Hunt Library". NCSU Libraries. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  21. ^ a b Hoyle, Amanda (2012-09-21). "Robotic machinery powers book retrieval at Hunt library". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved 2013-02-19.
  22. ^ "Hunt Library: bookBot". Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  23. ^ Price, Jay (2012-12-18). "NCSU's hyper-modern James B. Hunt Jr. Library poised to open". The News & Observer. Retrieved 2013-02-19.
  24. ^ "Makerspace". N.C. State Libraries. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
  25. ^ "NCSU Libraries - Game Lab". North Carolina State University. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
  26. ^ "NCSU Game Lab". North Carolina State University. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
  27. ^ "Video Wall Guide". NCSU Libraries. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
  28. ^ "Code+Art". NCSU Libraries. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
  29. ^ "NCSU's Centennial Campus wins national award for economic impact - Triangle Business Journal". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved 2015-06-02.
  30. ^ "2014 Prizes | Stanford University Libraries". library.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2015-06-02.
  31. ^ "The 16 Coolest College Libraries In The Country". Retrieved 2015-06-02.
  32. ^ "The Future of Libraries: Short on Books, Long on Tech". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2015-06-02.
  33. ^ "2013 AIA / ALA Library Building Awards". www.aia.org. Retrieved 2015-06-02.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 35°46′09″N 78°40′35″W / 35.769275°N 78.676493°W / 35.769275; -78.676493