Assignment X – Library Automation

Is library automation the library of the future?

Some might think that automation means getting rid of librarians. On the contrary! Automation could help give librarians more time back. Libraries are meant to serve people, and it’s difficult to serve if so much of librarians’ time is being spent on non-patron-related tasks, or tasks that aren’t directly assisting patrons.

A few examples of automation include:

    • Allowing staff to work remotely, which could free up available hours to assist library patrons digitally; this could also allow librarians and other staff to assist patrons at multiple locations.
    • Machine learning can be utilized to cut down on time spent completing data entry.
    • Outsourcing help like IT, help desk, and security can be hired so that the library can stay open longer hours without needing to be staffed directly on site.

Another item in the pro column for automation: digital interactive interfaces, like the ones I’ve linked below.

The interactive desk at the DDR Museum in Berlin is the first interface of that type that I’ve gotten to play around with. You’re able to look at files, review historical notes, and even move office supplies around! I’d love to see other interfaces like this all over the world.

Interactive desk at the DDR Museum in Berlin, Germany

(There is also a bedroom with a closet at the DDR Museum where you can choose an item of clothing to wear by placing it on a specific spot on the rod, and a camera will impose your image onto the “mirror” of you wearing the item of clothing you chose!)

Growing up as a millennial, I’ve seen technology grow and change in so many ways that I never could have dreamed of. What other ways can we automate libraries? What do you hope to see in the future?

3 thoughts on “Assignment X – Library Automation”

  1. Dang! This is pretty good, Paige. You raise quite a few good points in terms of Automation. After all, you are right that with automation, library professionals would be granted more time to help users virtually and keep smaller libraries open.

    You know, thinking about it now, you could say that libraries are already automated with their self-serving check-out machines: library users can use these machines to check out items, giving library staff more time to help other patrons with any problems.

    Take care,


    1. @wallacepaige99 Firstly, I love the way you executed this layout. What a great combination of text, lists, and visual representation of information. Your first point about remote librarian work is what caught my attention. I see a lot of debate around this topic in particular, but you nailed the reasoning for it. I have found that I usually need online librarian chats outside of typical business hours. So to have a network where librarians from anywhere can assist anyone seems smart: across time zones would be really interesting! Nice work 🙂

  2. Hi @wallacepaige99, I had not thought much about automation in a library setting. The idea that automation could give library staff more time is definitely appealing! I could see how that time could be spent on programming and even outreach. Thank you for introducing me to this topic!

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