Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Public Library Partner with Google Chicago to Offer Take-Home Computer Coding Robots

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Public Library are partnering with Google Chicago to provide hands-on computer programming Finch Robots to Chicago Public Library patrons, helping to meet Mayor Emanuel’s goal of providing STEM education for Chicagoans of all ages. Thanks to Google’s donation of 500 Finch Robots, anyone with an adult Chicago Public Library card can now check out one of the state-of-the-art robots in order to learn the basics of computer coding.

“These Finch Robots will offer Chicago Public Library patrons an introduction to crucial 21st century skills in a creative, easy-to-learn way that makes computer programming accessible to Chicagoans of all ages,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This partnership with Google Chicago is part of our comprehensive approach to expanding STEM education across the city, and I applaud Google for their contributions in ensuring that all residents have access to the cutting edge resources of tomorrow.”

The Chicago Public Library is the first library in the nation to be able to lend out Finch Robots. Carnegie Mellon University Create Lab invented the Finch Robot as a user-friendly introduction to computer science learning and the art of programming. Designed to present an engaging introduction to the art of programming, the Finch Robot supports more than a dozen of the most commonly used computer languages and environments, including several appropriate for students as young as eight years old. As students learn the basic concepts of coding, they are able to program the robot to do various functions, such as: move, make noises, light up, and even draw. Users simply hook the device to their home computer or laptop and download various instructional tutorials from the website. Free access to these simple, fun tools will allow patrons of all ages to gain problem solving skills and confidence with technology while enjoying a hands-on experience with computer science.

“Getting students excited about computer science at the primary and secondary school level is critical. By providing the robots to the Library, we hope to inspire the next generation of technologists and computer scientists here in Chicago,” said Jim Lecinski, Vice President, Americas Customer Solutions and head of the Google Chicago office.

“Chicago Public Library is proud to be able to once again offer all our residents the opportunity to gain the 21st century skills needed in today’s global economy. Like with our Maker Lab, the Library is lowering the barriers to access to technology created by the all-too-real digital divide,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon.

The robots are housed at six CPL locations and available to any adult patron across the city through the Library’s holds system. Interested users can simply request the item to be delivered to the library location of their choice through the Library’s website The robots are available as single items or in packs of five, making it easy for teachers or community groups to check out multiple devices to teach larger groups.

In 80 branches across the City of Chicago, the Chicago Public Library continues to promote innovation and creativity throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods. The library recently opened the 3D Maker Lab, offering 3D design software, 3D printers and other 21st century tools of innovation, while expanding the digital learning YOUmedia program for local teens. The library’s redesigned website offers resources that can better connect patrons to digital and physical resources along with an improved digital library catalog.

The Chicago Public Library also serves as a center of learning for students throughout the City. The library offers the most comprehensive homework assistance program of any library system in the country, in both English and Spanish. A record 71,000 children participated in creative learning opportunities held at Chicago Public Library locations as part of 2013’s Summer Learning Challenge.

Since 1873, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults.

CPL recently received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and was ranked number one in the U.S. and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany. For more information, visit or call the Chicago Public Library at (312) 747-4050.