There’s a real library bot in Singapore! The only thing it does is shelf reading. I’ve done lots of shelf reading during my library career. I would have loved having a robot read shelves for me.
For Keong, the most gratifying part of designing a whirring robot shelving assistant is seeing how librarians light up when they realize that the amount of time they need to set aside for such tasks can be reduced. But he assures those worrying about automation reducing library jobs that his invention will never replace librarians themselves. “Definitely not,” he said. “The robot only performs the most menial and time-consuming part of the shelf reading operation.” That leaves librarians free to do what they do best, he said: engage with their patrons.