The presence of robots in the library was addressed in four different environments. Cindy Hill talked about the Telepresence robot at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. One issue surrounding the robot are security, both in terms of roaming and hacking. Perception of robots as gimmicky was another issue, as was maintenance. Cindy thought that ownership of the robot should fall under the library but it went to IT that, ironically, will loan out the robot. Interestingly, she did not find cost to be an issue.
Bonnie Roalsen, John Walsh, Rebecca Meehan, at Woburn Public Library, have a robotics literacy program where they teach coding and robotics. They assured the audience that robots can be cute, not scary, and noted that coding has become a lot easier now that it’s done in blocks instead of interminable lines of code.
Jason Griffey talked about strategies and perceptions regarding technologies that take control of a physical activity and put it into the hands of machines. He worries about how we teach people to interact with robots and thinks that job replacement will be an inevitable outcome of increased automation of library jobs.
Dewey is the programmable robot at Palo Alto Public Library. and they will soon add Misty. Dan Lou described the coding events at the library. Dewey has been taught to dance, do pushups, and give high-fives, largely because of requests from children learning to code. For those thinking of buying a robot, she warned attendees to be aware of the platform on which the robot runs (Dewey and Misty are on different platforms) and that robots, like computers, get updated and can become obsolete when a new version appears.