Conn. Library Employs Robots In Hopes Of Modernizing Patrons’ Experience

Christian Datoc Senior White House Correspondent
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Vincent and Nancy are two-feet tall, bright blue and orange and the newest staff members at the West Port, Conn. public library.

Along with a recently acquired 3-D printer, these “Neo Evolution” robots, developed by French robotics-firm Aldebaran, form the backbone of the library’s new technology push.

Maxine Bleiweis, the library’s executive director, told The Wall Street Journal that the tech surge is meant to give public citizens the opportunity to experiment with technologies that will invariably influence society in the near future. “From an economic-development perspective and job- and career-development perspective, it’s so important.”

West Port is not the first library to employ robots; in May 2014, public libraries in Chicago began using “Finch” robots to teach patrons basic computer skills. However, Vincent and Nancy are significantly more advanced. At last week’s public unveiling, Alex Giannini, West Port’s digital-experience manager, mentioned that these robots are fluent in nineteen languages and will teach patrons a variety of topics, ranging from computer programming to Tai Chi.

Giannini hopes that the robots will also be able to assist patrons with “practical stuff,” such as greeting guests and helping locate that impossible-to-find book.

Vince and Nancy’s first day of work will be Oct. 11, and if all goes well, libraries will never be the same again.