New MSL Assistant, Elena Hughes, reports on Smart Robots Workshop



After a short introduction by program director Mary Moen, workshop attendees were able to jump right into fun, hands-on learning led by Dan Berman of the Rhode Island Computer Museum. 

In teams of two, we struggled, laughed, and whooped our way through a series of engaging challenges with Raspberry Pi, a small robot assembled by Dan and run by Raspbian OS.  Even for those attendees who already utilize robots in their libraries and makerspaces, the event was a time for everyone to become more comfortable and familiar with robots and coding. 

We discussed how Raspberry Pi, Ozobots, and other user-friendly robots are widely available, largely inexpensive tools that will continue to help librarians engage their patrons and students in fun and challenging ways.  A robotics center in your library offers skills-development in problem solving, troubleshooting and teamwork. 

Of particular interest to this future librarian: we ourselves do not have to be experts in robotics in order to help our students and patrons benefit from these tools.  I will repeat: Librarians do not have to be experts in robotics.  Just take a moment to let the sweet relief wash over you. If users have problems that require assistance, perhaps the best service we can render is one of research.  A simple “I don’t know that answer, but let’s find out together!” could be a powerful hook.  Sure, helping our users troubleshoot their challenges will (hopefully) provide them with answers to their robotic challenges but even more importantly, letting them observe how we find information and process it will leave them with a long-lasting and invaluable lesson in research and discovery.  After all, isn’t that why we are all here? Getting to play with robots is just one more perk…


By: Elena Jarret Hughes