by Philippe Cloutier
News headlines that capture public attention often involve a play on words or a bit of sensationalism. This is not the case for a recently published Texas feel-good story: Robots Coming to Arlington Library Branch. Rather, it is a more humble and absolutely real story.
The East Arlington Branch Library has received a generous $95,0000 grant that will allow them to provide exciting programs and new technology. These services target the youth and aim to bridge a technological divide that exists amongst financially disadvantaged, under-served populations. Building on the status quo, such as access to computers and free wi-fi within the library, the library hopes to offer:
- mobile homework sites with wi-fi and laptops
- software and hardware to develop interest in sciences and the arts/graphic design
- potential cooperation with robotics/engineer specialists from universities and businesses
- a CyberCoach to help train patrons with technology
Increasingly, libraries are reaching out to their users and escaping the confines of brick and mortar locations. It’s a no-brainer that public libraries should constantly strive to remain relevant and build upon their partnerships with community and business leaders. Arlington’s library is a fine example of this, and as an added bonus they are successfully shattering library stereotypes and raising public awareness. The Pacific Northwest could take a page from Texas’ playbook given our dominant tech industries and our love of libraries, and perhaps one day we will have our own library-developed, youth-made robot overlords.