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Temple University’s Charles Library includes a ‘BookBot’ storage and retrieval system

The project was designed by Stantec and Snøhetta.

October 02, 2019 |
Charles Library Exterior main entrance

All photos courtesy Stantec

As part of a $1.2 billion capital improvement program for Temple University’s Main Campus, the school commissioned Stantec and Snøhetta to design a new library to replace the existing 1960s facility.

The resulting 220,000-sf Charles Library is a technology rich, dynamic environment that anticipates over five million annual visitors. The library’s exterior is highlighted by a solid base clad in split-faced granite and large wooden arched entrances cut into the stone volume. Glass is included at all three entrances to allow natural light into the building and create a sense of transparency.


Temple University Charles Library exterior


Once inside the building, visitors are greeted by a three-story atrium that offers views of every floor and corner of the building. Light fills the space from an oculus on the top floor and a steel main staircase is located near the information desk. This desk acts as the first interface between library staff and students and facilitates their access to the library collection.


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The collection includes 13,800 new title volumes near the main entry, 260,000 volumes in browsable stacks, 31,000 special collection volumes in secure high-density storage, and 1.8 million volumes located within an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) known as BookBot. The BookBot space is 57 feet tall, spanning three floors, and allows holdings previously housed in off-site deep storage to be relocated on-site. Thanks to BookBot, the space required for book storage is drastically reduced, enabling space for collaboration, academic resources, and individual study space, and access to the library’s collection is expanded.




The library’s second and third floors are anchored by the Student Success Center, which offers writing and tutoring support; the Loretta C. Duckworth Scholars studio, which provides access to digital fabrication and immersive technologies; and Temple University Press. On the fourth floor are two expansive reading rooms, dedicated to graduate, faculty, and undergraduate study. 


Charles Library exterior glazing


The fourth floor is glazed on all four sides providing views of a 47,300-sf green roof that covers over 70% of the building’s roof surface. The roof is integrated into the building’s stormwater management system, which is designed to capture rainwater from the campus and manage all rainwater runoff. Forty meeting rooms and study spaces are dispersed throughout the building and are available for reservation. Hunt Engineering was the civil engineer and LERA was the Structural Engineer for the project. Daniel J. Keating was the contractor.


Charles Library atrium


Charles Library information desk


Charles Library collaboration space


Charles Library study space


Charles Library exterior rear


BookBot in action


Charles Library atrium space

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