Pepper the Humanoid Robot comes to Roanoke County Public Library

By Irisha Jones - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va.- - Pepper the humanoid robot is the newest team member at Roanoke County Public Library. It is the first public library in the U.S. to recruit Pepper. 

"We have all just fallen in love with Pepper. Pepper is the first to my knowledge to detect the human emotions," said Shari Henry, director of the library. 

The robot seems to be able to do it all. It can tell you a story. It can do a variety of dances. You can ask a simple specific question and get a response back. It will even take a selfie with you. 

Besides all the fun things, Roanoke County will use the robot as a teaching tool for the community. 

"From nursing homes to early literacy programs to Roanoke history. How to research our genealogy. We're looking at some prevention stories. It's where we seen in this day and age where suicide rates are rising. How can a robot be less intimidating to get people the information they need?," said Henry. 

Michael Hibben said Pepper will also teach coding and robotics. 

"We'll be doing coding classes with Pepper so that the community can come in and code Pepper to have new apps to serve the community. We are really looking forward to finding out what the community wants Pepper to do and then code Pepper to do those things," said Michael Hibben, senior branch manager.  

Library staff members said Pepper will encourage reading with technology. 

"Libraries are still about literacy and books. But we always been a place for thousands of years a place of discovery and AI is just the newest component of that," said Hibben. 

According to a press release, 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. 
 

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