Library Wins Top Innovator Award

Urban Libraries Council Recognizes PACL for its Robotics Program

The Urban Libraries Council has awarded the 2019 Innovation Award to the Palo Alto City Library for its robotics program. Since 2016, the eLibrary team has provided national leadership in library robotics. We are very pleased with this recognition of our work.

"Robotics in libraries demonstrates how a public library can prepare the community for the future," writes Monique le Conge Ziesenhenne, PhD, Interim Assistant City Manager and Library Director, "demystifying technology and teaching new skills in an exciting way, while learning and co-creating WITH the community at the same time."

Our robotics project began in 2016, with a Pacific Library Partnership Innovation Grant, which we used to purchase a number of technologies, including a humanoid NAO robot, whom we named Dewey (after the Dewey Decimal System, the numerical system used to organize books on shelves). Using a drag-and-drop code editor, or straight python code, we can program Dewey to dance, sing, tell stories or provide interactive experiences for customers. Since then, we have launched our popular Robo Dojo robot coding workshops, Robot Story Times and the Sunday Robot Show.

Dan Lou, Senior Librarian with the eLibrary, has been instrumental in the success of our robotics program. Skilled in python coding, Dan has applied her knowledge of programing to create a really unique digital literacy service in Palo Alto.

Our work has served as a model for other libraries getting into the robotics business. We have consulted with numerous libraries around the country, presented at several conferences and have had our grant replicated by the California State Library copycat grant program.

We continue to innovate in this area. Dan has recently been awarded a Python Software Foundation Grant to create new python coding courses using robots. And we have recently acquired a second humanoid Misty II robot, Elsie. Keeping with our naming convention, her name was derived from L.C., or the Library of Congress classification system.

See our robots for yourself at one of our upcoming robot events.