The Eugene Public Library has more than just books on its shelves. In a recent trend — common to all public libraries — patrons have been borrowing everything from cake pans to board games and sewing machines. However, what’s catching everyone’s eye are the lifelike robot cats that now reside at this public library, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Public library patrons can take robot cats home
These cuddly felines are named Bandit, Mr. Pickles, and Percival. All three of them have green eyes, along with black and white fur. According to Kate Berry, the library’s adult services supervisor, these robotic cats are here to provide companionship — especially for those feeling lonely or struggling with memory loss.
That said, they have become a hit with many different demographics. The soothing purrs and realistic behavior of the robot cats have even helped them become beloved companions to library staff. Heather Sears, the children’s services supervisor, shared that the library has “a kind of quiet room” where the cats have been placed.
Employees having a stressful day can retreat to this room to cuddle with their own robotic kitty companion. Given that purring cats have a therapeutic effect, it is no surprise the public library team members love these furry felines. In fact, some of the staff have even decided to purchase a robotic cat of their own.
The cats are part of a ‘Library of Things’
Despite being a more recent addition to the Library of Things, there is already a waiting list for checking out the cats. Anyone who is hoping to eventually do so will need a library card. However, unlike books, the various items housed in the Library of Things frequently come with instructions.
This innovative collection of items has seen significant growth during the pandemic. From musical instruments — like ukuleles, keyboards, and guitars — to educational toys and various forms of technology, the library’s offerings have diversified beyond imagination.
Be that as it may, managing the circulation of non-traditional items presents its own challenges. Sears mentioned that while most patrons are careful with the items, some — like the larger lawn games — can be cumbersome to handle during returns.
Initially funded by the Eugene Public Library Foundation, the Library of Things continues to grow thanks to community support. While library staff does welcome suggestions for new additions to the collection, the library does not accept donated items.
Robotic cats to offer a life-like pet experience
Both Sears and Berry stressed that the primary aim of the robot cats is to simulate the experience of having a real pet. Bandit, Mr. Pickles, and Percieval are ideal companions if one wants to settle in with a cozy book on a rainy afternoon.
According to Sears, the library aims to have patrons interact with each robotic feline as if they “were a real cat.”