Last Saturday the new entrance area to the library was ceremonially opened by mayor Karl Kobelt, accompanied by senior librarian Pia Rutshauser, and a robot.
The robot, named Kolin, was certainly an attraction for parents and children who came along to the opening, the entrance area now with a new wooden staircase replacing stone steps. Even the robot was approved of the new staircase, saying how nice it looked.
Engaging in further conversation with the robot, Kobelt reminded Kolin that they had met up last week and asked her if he was a visitor to the library or an employee there, to which she responded that she was there to to assist visitors. When the mayor asked him if she was the first such robot to work in a Swiss library, Kolin said she was not aware of any others, before going on to embark on a celebratory dance with both Kobelt and Rutishauser (photpgraph).
As to how intelligent Kolin really is, Rutishauser explained that, at present, he has been programmed to be able to respond to ten questions, with more planned, enabling him to provide visitors with initial information. Rutishauser further explained that the robot had been provided by the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, from where many students came to the library to engage in research for their degrees. Not that the introduction of Kolin had anything to do with machine learning, it was more that, thanks to GPS, he would be able to find his way around and show visitors where books were, as the head of IT in the city of Zug, Daniel Truttmann, explained. Rutishauser made a point of saying that, following the deployment of Kolin, other employees need not fear for their jobs, the robot just being additional help.
Also attending the opening last Saturday was deputy mayor Vroni Straub, who felt that Kolin would be very much a focus of attention. “After all, with Zug being known as a centre for digitisation, something like this was what might expect of a public institution here.” Not that they come cheap, at CHF 20,000, Kobelt emphasising that no second one was on order for the administration offices.
Saturday’s opening was not purely about reading and robotics, with Matthias Bösel and Mario Wiesendanger presenting a spectacular acrobatic football freestyle display, way beyond the capacity of Kolin. Youngsters from the Children’s and Youth Theatre also performed, much to the delight of all those attending.
This article is based on a report by Christian Tschümperlin.