Skip to content

McKinney Public Library Adds Two Robots To Its Staff

Let an automated little helper take you on a tour through the library
Photo courtesy of the City of McKinney

Watch out, Jeff Bezos! You are not the only one taking an interest in automation around here anymore. Last week the John and Judy Gay Library in McKinney became the first library in the state of Texas to use automatic robots on the public floor.

The two little helpers are Orion Star’s AI delivery robots the company promotes for restaurant use, but they have been adapted to guide visitors through the library, provide information and help keep things tidy by getting books to their correct shelves once readers are done with them. Right now this is the only library to have them, and McKinney’s public library staff is trying to figure out if similar robots could navigate an elevator to roam through the two-story layout of Roy and Helen Hall Memorial Library.

“We are in the process of programming them to also serve as guides during busy programs or for patrons who would prefer a robot to guide them to their preferred section of the library instead of staff,” Spencer Smith, director of the McKinney public library system, told Local Profile. This means that if you are looking for a new science fiction novel to escape to a futuristic landscape, an actual robot will take you to the correct section. How cool is that?

But techy people of McKinney have more to look forward to from the public library system. Starting on November 1, residents will be able to take home not just books, but makers kits. “The pilot project will start with five 3D printers, and three laser engravers and CNC routing machines. Maker kits will be available for reservation and will be housed at the branch where they are returned,” explained Smith. With these kits, people will be able to create a maker space in their own homes instead of having to work onsite in the library. “These kits will require the user to have their own computer, and they will all require free software to be downloaded, which can be done before checking out the items,” added Smith.

At the Roy and Helen Hall Memorial Library, you can also make use of a new archival quality scanner for free and preserve precious family books and photos. The machine can also translate written documents into audio files for the visually impaired.

Did you think that was all? Oh, no. Keep an eye out this fall as the library will launch a streaming video platform with more than 42,000 videos from the BBC, A&E, HBO and more. Additionally, they are expanding the library’s digital services to include over 300,000 items to their eBook and digital magazine collection.