Virtual tools for library learning

Many libraries do not satisfy the need for quick and easy access to an increasingly diverse spread of educational topics. Project VERITY is exploring virtual library services that are creative, stimulating and enlightening. The work is aimed at the 13-19 age group. A prototype tool called Virtual Librarian replicates in a virtual computer environment the help, expertise and knowledge of the professional librarian. Additionally, the system provides an easily maintainable service and assistance to teaching and information professionals.

Virtual Librarian uses World Wide Web technologies and an interactive interview process to direct users to the information they require. It also incorporates Eurovoc and other thesauri to closely match natural language queries to database entries. A learning dialogue explains the information seeking process. Joint development of the core system will result in demonstrators in different countries with a common base and local variations, according to the needs of language, subject, target group and so on.

The interactive data searching capabilities are demonstrated on the VERITY stand. This illustrates how those seeking information can take advantage of professional skills, without being tied to location and opening hours. The system could potentially be exploited and integrated by enquiry services outside the library community.

Contact Janet STAFFORD, University of Sunderland
tel +44 191 515 2903
fax +44 191 515 2904
email janet.stafford@sunderland.ac.uk
website verity.sunderland.ac.uk/

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