Another Robot Finds a Library Home

August 23, 2016

Job automation has its benefits and downsides.  Some of the benefits are that it frees workers up to take on other tasks, cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and quicker turn around.  The downside is that it could take jobs and could take out the human factor in customer service.   When it comes to libraries, automation and books/research appear to be the antithesis of each other.  Automation, better known as robots, is invading libraries once again and people are up in arms that librarians are going to be replaced. shares the story “Robot Librarians Invade Libraries In Singapore” about how the A*Star Research library uses a robot to shelf read.  If you are unfamiliar with library lingo, shelf reading means scanning the shelves to make sure all the books are in their proper order.  The shelf reading robot has been dubbed AuRoSS.  During the night AuRoSS scans books’ RFID tags, then generates a report about misplaced items.  Humans are still needed to put materials back in order.

The fear, however, is that robots can fulfill the same role as a librarian.  Attach a few robotic arms to AuRoSS and it could place the books in the proper places by itself.  There already is a robot named Hugh answering reference questions:

New technologies thus seem to storm the libraries. Recall that one of the first librarian robots, Hugh could officially take his position at the university library in Aberystwyth, Wales, at the beginning of September 2016. Designed to meet the oral requests by students, he can tell them where the desired book is stored or show them on any shelf are the books on the topic that interests them.

It is going to happen.  Robots are going to take over the tasks of some current jobs.  Professional research and public libraries, however, will still need someone to teach people the proper way to use materials and find resources.  It is not as easy as one would think.

Whitney Grace, August 23, 2016
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