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Areas and contexts of the use of robotics in libraries: an overview of the applied solutions and a discussion of prospects

Magdalena Wójcik (Faculty of Management and Social Communication, Institute of Information Studies, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 27 March 2023

264

Abstract

Purpose

Robotics is a topic that rarely appears in Library and Information Science literature as it is mainly explored in the field of computer science. It is also a very complex topic that covers various forms of technical solutions that have varying degrees of complexity; these are conventionally referred to as robots. The aim of this article is to present an overview of the applied solutions from the field of robotics in libraries and a discussion of the future prospects for their use in various areas of library activity.

Design/methodology/approach

The article is based on a literature review. Systematic comparative searches were made in the Scopus and Web of Science databases and the popular Google Scholar search engine. Publications in English related to the use of robots in libraries were sought in the 2010–2021 period. The results were subjected to qualitative analysis in order to define the main directions of reflection.

Findings

The conducted analyses showed that the topic of the use of robots in libraries is relatively rarely mentioned in LIS literature as the main topic of considerations. In practice, however, many interesting examples of the use of robots in libraries can be found, mainly in the area of educational and popularizing activities.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is based on a systematic literature review. However, it is based on selected information sources and covers a specific chronological range, therefore it does not reflect all publications in the field of using robots in libraries. The second limitation concerns the examples of library activities mentioned in the text. For obvious reasons, it is not possible to describe all interesting initiatives, so a selection was made to illustrate the main trends.

Practical implications

Robots have a wide practical application in library activities, as evidenced by the examples described in this paper. Systematized reflection on this topic may promote the popularization of the practical implementation of robots in libraries.

Social implications

Robotics is a topic that, due to a lack of reliable knowledge, is often of great concern and social controversy. Disseminating knowledge about the usability of robots may foster a peaceful social debate on this topic.

Originality/value

Robotics-related topics are still rarely discussed in the LIS subject literature. In particular, there are no entry-level review articles that would familiarize a reader with the most important findings on the practical aspects of implementing robots in libraries and provide a starting point for reading more detailed publications on specific technologies or implementations.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Mike Timberlake for proofreading and Dr Marek Deja for helping her to refine her paper via using specialized proofreading software.

Citation

Wójcik, M. (2023), "Areas and contexts of the use of robotics in libraries: an overview of the applied solutions and a discussion of prospects", Library Hi Tech, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-10-2022-0487

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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