Robots have come a long way from their earliest imaginings centuries ago, to their slightly menacing mid-twentieth century presence, to their more narrowly focused and task-specific deployment today. (Who wouldn’t rather have a robot do the vacuuming?) What does this look like in libraries? As libraries provide opportunities to explore robotics from creation to operation, well, it looks like a little bit of everything.

Human understanding of the design and development process was once limited to an elite circle of scientists and technicians. Not so, today. Robotics programs can be found at schools across the country, including the Central School Library in Quincy, Massachusetts. Using Lego Robotics kits, students design and build practical applications for small robots—such as burglar alarm systems—and enter those robots into local competitions.


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Community members of all ages learn programming with the assistance of Westport (Connecticut) Library’s winsome instructors, Nancy and Vincent. Nancy and Vincent are child-size robots designed by French company Alderban, and they’ve taken Westport’s commitment to integrating technology to a whole new level. Whether sharing soccer moves, doing tai chi, talking to patrons, or patiently accommodating the instructions of novice coders, Nancy and Vincent have charmed the community and sparked interest in computer programming.

Research has shown that children on the autism spectrum can be more comfortable interacting with machines than people. Bibli at Longmont Library in Colorado gives kids the best of both worlds. Using advances in design, working with a team of youth on the autism spectrum and their families, and adorning their creation with locally-designed haute couture, technicians at ROBAUTO created Bibli to greet and engage young library goers. Bibli’s success has been so phenomenal that Longmont Library now lends Baby Biblis, designed with the same ASD-friendly features, to patrons.

Behind the scenes, RooBot at University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Miller Nichols Library shows how libraries lead the way in integrating new technologies into the workplace. RooBot is an automated storage and retrieval system that maximizes use of space and allows patrons to access less-frequently used books within minutes of requesting them.

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