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The First Public Library to Own Pepper the Humanoid Robot


Roanoke County Public Library (RCPL) has become the first public library in the U.S. to recruit Pepper®, the humanoid robot to serve as part of the library’s team. RCPL is partnering with RobotLAB, a San Francisco based company, to create content and develop a variety of programming for patrons of all ages, to be delivered in-house at all library locations and via outreach efforts. Developed by SoftBank Robotics, Pepper will also be used as a host to drive traffic to lesser used library areas.


Holding fast to the historical importance of the library’s role in information literacy, and recognizing the importance of digital literacy in the 21st Century, RCPL plans to add more technology-based resources to its robust array of more traditional ones. Pew Research Foundation’s 2016 Libraries Report revealed 80% of respondents believed libraries should teach people how to use digital tools. Technological literacy is now an expected and critical part of the library’s support of lifelong learning, one of seven initiatives cited in Roanoke County’s Community Strategic Plan.

Library staff is creating content for programs to teach early literacy, aid in genealogical and local history research, promote movement to music, and provide consumer health information with a special focus on prevention. Pepper will also be used to grow proficiency about artificial intelligence, and to teach coding and robotics to all ages, particularly in regard to preparing teens for the future workforce and helping small businesses compete in the current one.  

Pepper is scheduled to appear at a variety of STEAM programs this fall including Introductions to Scratch and Python, Arduino, Raspberry Jam, and more. Micro:bits will be available for patrons to check out soon. The library’s fall calendar of events is available on our website and at all library locations.

Pepper was privately funded by the Friends of Roanoke County Public Library.
There are six libraries in Roanoke County: South County Library, Bent Mountain, Glenvar, Hollins, Mount Pleasant, and Vinton. For more information, call (540) 772-7507 or visit www.yourlibrary.us. Connect with us on social media:


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  • Jun 17, 2019 2:11:00 PM

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