How often have you pulled a rarely needed book off your shelf and needed to blow a layer of dust off of it? Now imagine what libraries have to deal with, given the tens of thousands of tomes in their collections. But it turns out someone’s already invented a machine that cleans books like a tiny waterless carwash.
The Boston Public Library tweeted this video yesterday of its Depulvera, a machine made by a company called Oracle (no, not that Oracle) that uses spinning brushes, a conveyor belt, and a built-in vacuum to suck all the dirt and debris off a book that’s been sitting on the shelf for ages. The librarian still needs to feed it books and catch them once cleaned and ejected, but otherwise the cleaning process is completely automated.
The machine can handle books over 15 inches tall, and at top speed can clean up to 12 of them every minute. That’s without causing damage, so it’s useful for conservators too. It’s also completely portable, letting librarians wheel it to the forgotten shelves in the library’s basement that haven’t been accessed in decades.