Visitors to Southam’s new library were entertained by a robot when they attended the official launch of the new facility.
NAO, the humanoid robot, encouraged local people to join their new library before performing a dance routine to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
The visit from NAO was organised by Warwickshire County Council’s library service as part of a day of activities to celebrate the new facility in Southam’s town centre.
Attorney General and Southam’s local MP, Jeremy Wright was at the launch and said: “This is a huge achievement and this building will become, and already is, at the heart of the community for everyone – from the very youngest to the very oldest.”
The purpose-built facility at Tithe Place, which stands on the site of the town’s original library, has seen a steep rise in visitors and items issued since it moved from its temporary base.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said at the launch: “Southam has an incredibly strong community spirit, without which none of this would be possible, and that is why I am particularly proud to see Southam Library return to the heart of the community – exactly where it belongs.”
Southam’s original library occupied a large plot of land in the centre of the town. The site was identified as being an ideal location for specialist accommodation for older people as well as providing an opportunity to reinvigorate the centre of Southam.
Orbit Homes developed the site to include the new library at Tithe Place along with Tithe Lodge – a scheme of 75 apartments designed specifically for the 55s and over.
Residential communal facilities, such as two private gardens, a lounge, and a games room have also been provided, alongside a neighbourhood police office, and a restaurant open to the wider community.
Delighted by the launch, local councillor John Appleton said: “The new library is a welcome addition to Southam and I am delighted that so many people are already making the most of it.”
A range of activities took part on the library launch day, ranging from Story Stomp for pre-school children to an e-book surgery to help adults download library books and services to their mobile devices.
Guests were also treated to a live performance by Harry Jenkins, Warwickshire’s new Young Poet Laureate. Harry said: “There is so much going on in libraries and I am really grateful to the library service for the support and encouragement they have given me to perform poetry around the county.”
Earlier in the day, NAO the robot took a tour of the children’s library where he revealed that his favourite story was Star Wars and said how pleased he was that the library was engaging young people in technology and would soon be running its own code club. NAO is one of the humanoid robots used by the county council’s ICT Development Service in schools to increase student engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Councillor Matt Western, Chair of the Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, added: “We would like to thank everyone for their support in this project – our partners, staff and local community. Southam Library is a fantastic new space where people can broaden their knowledge and personal development.”
The construction of Tithe Lodge and Tithe Place was recently completed by Leadbitter for Orbit Homes.
Watch NAO, the humanoid robot thrill a young audience at the launch of Southam Library: